Stoke City would stay up, Leeds go up, Charlton relegated if EFL follows ‘best of all options’ Scottish precedent



Stoke City would stay up if English football heads down a route Scotland is heading towards – but there are sure to be fierce arguments about whether it is the fair, right and proper way to handle an unprecedented scenario.

Stoke have been out of action for a month due the coronavirus pandemic, with all fixtures having been postponed indefinitely.

There is rising uncertainty about how to complete the campaign – or whether it will be finished at all – as the virus continues to sweep across the UK.

In Belgium the season has already been voided  with Club Brugge set to be crowned as Pro League champions and  rugby in England below the Premiership was cancelled at the start of the month  using a “best playing record formula” to decide the final tables.

The FA Council has this afternoon ratified the decision to declare the 2019/20 season null and void across Steps 3-7 of the National League System.

Now, the Scottish Professional Football League is reportedly close to abandoning the season – with the promotion and relegation places decided on average points.

All play-offs would be cancelled, meaning the pyramid play-off involving the Highland League and Lowland League champions would be scrapped.

All 42 Scottish pro clubs will vote prior to Friday’s 5pm deadline.

The Scottish top flight will remain postponed “to give the best possible opportunity” for it to finish, but it would also be decided on points won per match “if the SPFL board determines” the games cannot be played.

But no decision will be taken until after Uefa’s executive meeting on 23 April.

Clubs have taken contrasting stances.

Livingston released a statement saying: “In a letter from Scottish ministers to the SPFL the guidance suggests that the restrictions in place may not be lifted until a minimum of June 12. However our understanding is it is likely to be later than this. These guidelines are in place to help alleviate pressure on the NHS.

“In our opinion, there is no viable space to finish the current season and we feel with over 75 per cent of the games completed, an average points per game system is the best of all options, in which no option is great.

“Unfortunately, it is impossible to find a neutral ground which suits everyone.

“It is fundamental to Livingston Football Club that league prize money can be paid out, as we have a duty of care to our employees and fans to ensure we still have a football club for the following season.

“The only way for league money to be distributed is via the league season concluding and we must emphasise that voiding the season does not achieve this.”

They add: “Our preferred options, back on March 13, was to finish the current league before the new one started.

“It has become abundantly clear that this would be difficult at best to achieve, taking into account the pandemic, financial and contractual arrangements.”

Hearts will be relegated if the motion passes and Celtic would be crowned champions.

There is only one automatic relegation place in the 12-team Scottish Premiership for the team finishing bottom of the table while the other is decided in a one-off match between 11th place and the winners of the Championship play-off.

Applying the same resolution to the Championship is easy enough mathematically because, unlike in the English Premier League, no team has games in hand.

With 37 games gone, Barnsley, Luton Town and Charlton Athletic fill the bottom three spots, with Hull City, Wigan Athletic and Middlesbrough all two points above the drop zone and Huddersfield Town and Stoke a further point ahead.

Charlton only dropped into 22nd in the final week before the shutdown thanks to a 1-0 home defeat to Middlesbrough.

At the other end of the table, Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion are clear in the top two positions.

Hearts have threatened legal action if they are relegated without the remaining fixtures being played while Rangers criticised the plan.

In a statement, Rangers said: “It is abhorrent that certain clubs could be unfairly relegated if the current SPFL proposals were implemented.

“The consequences of forcing through change without due care and attention will have severe consequences for the Scottish game.”





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