‘Hard luck on Ipswich... no big clubs should get a free wildcard’ - Gills boss Evans on expanded play-offs

PUBLISHED: 13:19 19 May 2020 | UPDATED: 14:03 19 May 2020

Steve Evans and Paul Lambert clashed earlier in the season. Picture: PA/PAGEPIX

Steve Evans and Paul Lambert clashed earlier in the season. Picture: PA/PAGEPIX


Gillingham manager Steve Evans would relish a crack at the League One play-offs at Ipswich Town’s expense, as plans to expand the promotion tournament ‘gain legs’.

Gillingham manager Steve Evans.   Picture: Steve Waller    www.stephenwaller.comGillingham manager Steve Evans. Picture: Steve Waller www.stephenwaller.com

Discussions are continuing this week regarding the future of the third tier, with an EFL board meeting due to be held on Wednesday as the league and its clubs look to decide whether to complete the season and how to finalise placings.

One solution, put forward by Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony, is to expand the play-offs to include eight clubs due to the tight nature of the League One promotion race.

Ipswich were sitting 10th in the table when football was suspended on March 13 and, if that table was used, would enter the enlarged play-off tournament were it to be used.

However, using both the points-per-game and weighted points-per game models to refine league positions to level the playing field in terms of matches played, the Blues would drop to 11th.

Further discussions about the League One season will be held this weekFurther discussions about the League One season will be held this week

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Gillingham would jump above Ipswich under both scenarios, with boss Evans confident his side could make an impression if given the opportunity.

“I would trust we will give a good account of ourselves and perhaps even win them,” he told the Kent Messenger.

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“It would be hard luck on some though, including Ipswich, who would miss out.

“No big clubs can get a free wildcard, if you don’t have the points you’re not involved.”

Evans and Ipswich boss Paul Lambert clashed earlier this season, with the Town manager left enraged when Evans refused to shake his hand following the Blues’ 1-0 win at Priestfield in September and had to be held back by fitness coach Jim Henry during the final whistle fracas.

MORE: ‘Don’t expect me to shake his hand’ – Lambert says he’ll snub Evans, even though Gillingham boss keen to make up

Evans claimed afterwards that Lambert had said ‘something that would concern somebody on the street, let alone a football manager’ as well as shouting ‘you’re rubbish, son’ at young Gills debutant Jack Tucker.

Lambert responded strongly, calling those allegations ‘disgraceful’ and ‘a load of lies’. He added that ‘the abuse coming from their bench was vile’ and that, unlike Evans, he is ‘a real Glasgow man’.

Meanwhile, Peterborough co-owner, Stewart Thompson, believes the proposal is becoming more popular with clubs in the top 10.

“This solution (extending the play-offs to eight clubs) is gaining legs with the ‘top 10’ owners,” he said on Twitter. “I can totally understand why after the top 10 you don’t actually care. A play-off like this is way more fair than WPG or PPG.

“It’s an easier straight up formula because what do you weigh, home form, away form, league placing form etc? Listen if the bottom of the league knew their tab at the pub was being covered, they’d keep drinking... aka we’d all being playing football like the Premier League and the Championship.”

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