With thirty-seven games played, Stoke City sit three points outside of the relegation zone as they await a resolution to their season.
English football is currently on-hold due to the coronavirus crisis, and clubs are open to solutions – facing the possibility of bills to play without income, and no games to play.
However, Maidenhead United board members have issued an open letter with a resolution in mind.
A resolution, that would prevent the relegation of Stoke City – and a number of other clubs across the football pyramid.
Chairman Peter Griffin and CEO Jon Adams of the club have written an open letter to the FA, in which they describe a detailed plan to ensure that no club is relegated – and that the season has some kind of a resolution:
‘In times of great adversity we see football for what it is – a meaningless pastime that means everything to so many,’ started the pair.
‘At times of crisis, leadership and decision making is the most important thing. Currently we see the nation is rising to the challenge of Covid-19, supported by the leadership of Government. We also see many football clubs responding to the needs of their employees and their local communities. In truth, however, we are currently doing this in the dark, without clear leadership and direction from the football authorities.
‘We believe that there is an overwhelming consensus amongst National League Clubs that the football season should be finished now. We all want to focus on what is most important – keeping everyone safe and secure, and supporting the national effort to overcome the challenge of Covid-19.
‘With the country in lockdown it is not feasible to think football will resume any time soon. It is now time for the FA and the Premier League to show strong leadership by accepting the current season is over and that it is not practical to hope that it could be completed at an undefined future date. This message needs relaying to FIFA and other bodies. Quite simply put, it is abhorrent to stick our heads in the sand and insist ‘we will finish the season at all costs’ when people are dying (260 today) and the global crisis continues apace.
‘The time for consistency of approach and a solution for the whole football family is now. So far the FA has come up with a variety of ‘solutions’ for different steps of football – voiding the season for non-league steps 3-6, no comment on the National League, and apparently everything must be completed for top level and European competitions. This must stop immediately; football needs to act as one.
‘There is a solution, which minimises the negative impact for all and rewards the teams at the top end of their leagues this season. Our proposal is simple:
• Cancel the remainder of the season for all football.
• Decide issues of league winners/promotion using Points Per Game (PPG).
• Crucially, do not relegate any teams.
• Also, of fundamental importance, treat all leagues in the football pyramid the same from the top to bottom.
‘So, the Premier League – use PPG (and then goal difference, greater goals scored etc) to produce final table. Liverpool will be champions and the remaining Champions League and Europa League spots will be allocated in the normal way. Off pitch issues i.e. FFP sanctions of course still stand. No relegation.
‘Championship – PPG determines the table and top 3 promoted i.e. no play off to determine 3rd promotion spot. No relegation.
‘League 1 – as per Championship
‘League 2 – as per Championship but 4 promoted as Bury liquidation has created an additional vacancy.
‘National League – PPG determines the table and top 4 promoted. No relegation.
‘NLN and NLS – PPG determines the tables and 4 promoted i.e. 2 from each league. No Relegation.
‘All further steps – Promote number of teams required all the way down using PPG.
‘Note – Proposals to realign divisions should remain i.e. NLN and NLS to expand to 24 teams each – promote to fill spaces.
‘This solution means that, when things return to normal, football will be ready to return. There will always be solutions available in future seasons to reduce the number of teams in leagues if this is required. For example, it could be achieved by relegating one additional Premier League team per season until desired number is reached, with a knock-on effect all the way down the Football pyramid. Alternatively, the numbers could simply stay higher.
‘We believe our proposal offers a simple and realistic approach, which penalises no team but rewards the teams who have performed well during this season. More importantly than anything, it takes away some of ridiculous rhetoric about the need to finish the current football season and so we all focus on what is most important in this time of crisis.
‘It is time for the FA and the Premier League to recognise that their decisions impact on the whole of the football pyramid. The longer you delay in making a positive decision the greater the damage you are doing to the financial position of many football clubs at all levels. We are sure this is not the legacy you want from this crisis.
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‘We would also like to make a point on Premier League finances and the wider football family. We fully appreciate that the Premier League, as well as Premier League clubs and players, do so much for local communities, but now could be a time for them to consider the difference they can make for all levels of football. The reality is that, even with the financial support packages announced by Government over the last week or so, many lower league clubs will struggle to support their basic running costs over the coming weeks and months. Football however can’t and shouldn’t rely on a specific Government bailout. It is a wealthy sport, albeit with great disparity.
‘The Premier League and its clubs have the financial ability to make an immediate difference to the lower levels of football. It is probably not for us to come up with solutions, but for an example at Maidenhead United all our staff and players have agreed to a 20% pay cut during this period of uncertainty. Imagine the difference that could be made if all PL clubs implemented a temporary 20% wage cut for all playing staff and used the proceeds to help ease the financial plight of all other levels of football?
‘In the coming months and years, the FA, Premier League and PL clubs will be looked in the eye and asked ‘what did you do during the pandemic?’ How did you help football and the wider community? And all you did is insist the season must be finished…..?
‘We feel confident all sponsors and broadcasters involved with football would support this proposed new course of action, how could they not?
‘Peter Griffin, Chairman, Jon Adams CEO.’