How League One’s 23 clubs are set to vote as season-ending decision nears

PUBLISHED: 11:00 26 May 2020

The ongoing League One drama was the subject of our top three most-read stories of the week

The ongoing League One drama was the subject of our top three most-read stories of the week

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Clubs in the third tier will soon be asked to vote on whether or not to end the season. Here we look at which way teams in League One will go.

Peterborough's Darragh MacAnthony (right), Marcus Evans and Lee O'Neill of Ipswich Town (top) and Oxford boss Karl Robinson (bottom) have all had their say on the future of League One. Picture: PA/ARCHANTPeterborough's Darragh MacAnthony (right), Marcus Evans and Lee O'Neill of Ipswich Town (top) and Oxford boss Karl Robinson (bottom) have all had their say on the future of League One. Picture: PA/ARCHANT

We appear to be heading towards the end of the League One season, following the EFL’s statement last week which revealed how the campaign would be concluded should there be no more games in League One.

The governing body set out a framework which included the usual three promotions (one through the play-offs, which would still be played and limited to just four teams) and three relegations.

The 71 EFL clubs will first be asked whether to accept that framework, with a 51% majority needed as well as a 13-team majority of Championship teams to pass the framework into law.

Then it will come to asking clubs by division whether they want to complete the remaining matches or end the campaign now, adopting the framework. That would happen if 12 League One teams voted for it.

How clubs throughout League One could vote.How clubs throughout League One could vote.

Those votes appear unlikely to happen this week, with Monday June 1 the suggested date.

Here, reporters covering the 23 League One clubs look at which way things might go.

COVENTRY CITY

Likely vote: End season

Darragh MacAnthony (Peterborough), Joey Barton (Fleetwood) and Phil Parkinson (Sunderland) have all had their say on how League One should be completed. Picture: PADarragh MacAnthony (Peterborough), Joey Barton (Fleetwood) and Phil Parkinson (Sunderland) have all had their say on how League One should be completed. Picture: PA

Coventry are deservedly in pole position and, unsurprisingly, they won’t want to risk that by resuming fixtures.

“We believe that the situation should be dealt with the same way as a number of other countries have,” said CEO Dave Boddy.

“France have produced a final table on average points per game and I believe Scotland have done something similar, so the mechanism is there.”

ROTHERHAM UNITED

Rotherham United Manager Paul Warne 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdRotherham United Manager Paul Warne Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Likely vote: End season

Unsurprisingly with Rotherham second in the table and set for automatic promotion, they are happy to call it quits. Manager Paul Warne said: “I think that any team who was in our or Coventry’s position would expect and demand an automatic promotion. There’s no owner out there who would say: ‘Well, if we were second we would rather play on.’ Why would you risk your automatic position?”

OXFORD UNITED

Likely vote: Play on

Oxford’s managing director Niall McWilliams said: “We have said all along that we think the fairest way to decide the league is by playing matches, always with the proviso that it is done with the health and safety of our players and staff as the priority. The EFL has asked clubs to give their views and ours will categorically be ‘let’s play’.”

PORTSMOUTH

Likely vote: Play on

Portsmouth’s chief executive Mark Catlin has been consistent in his view that the season should be resumed. He said: “It’s a difficult situation but we continue to press with a number of other clubs to actually finish the season on the pitch, under government guidelines and when safe to do so. We have been consistent in that view.”

Oxford boss Karl Robinson Picture: PA SPORTOxford boss Karl Robinson Picture: PA SPORT

FLEETWOOD TOWN

Likely vote: Play on

Joey Barton has championed the resumption of fixtures and though his club’s play-off place is secured, the Fleetwood boss is still keen to get his players out on the pitch.

“We have to return to normality because if we don’t, then at some point the economy will fail and the football economy is already creaking now,” he said.

Fleetwood boss Joey Barton wants to finish the League One season Picture: PA SPORTFleetwood boss Joey Barton wants to finish the League One season Picture: PA SPORT

“We’ve got to get moving is my take. I’m happy to take that calculated risk based on everything I’ve been told about testing and about the distancing in place.

“If we don’t get back moving what are we going to do? Just sit and stay in our house and watch people go out of business?”

PETERBOROUGH UNITED

Likely vote: Play on

Coventry City manager Mark Robins. Picture: PA SPORTCoventry City manager Mark Robins. Picture: PA SPORT

Darragh MacAnthony has been among the most vocal on the subject of resuming the campaign and remains firmly of the belief football should be resumed when safe to do so.

He has, however, withdrawn his threat to take legal action against clubs who vote to end the season.

“I did take legal advice, as did many clubs, as it’s the sensible thing to do in business,” he said.

“But I was tired last week when I made those comments about sueing other clubs. It’s not something we will be doing.”

Rotherham United chairman Tony Stewart expects the League One season to be called off this week Picture: PA SPORTRotherham United chairman Tony Stewart expects the League One season to be called off this week Picture: PA SPORT

SUNDERLAND

Likely vote: Play on

Sunderland can only be promoted in one scenario, and that’s if the season is completed on the pitch.

The club’s CEO also believes his players want to resume competitive football to prove they can earn contracts for next season.

Paul Lambert's Ipswich Town are currently 10th in League One but could drop a place if the season is decided using a points-per-game formula. Picture: STEVE WALLERPaul Lambert's Ipswich Town are currently 10th in League One but could drop a place if the season is decided using a points-per-game formula. Picture: STEVE WALLER

“Our players that Phil (Parkinson) is in daily contact with, want to play,” Rodwell told talkSPORT. “They’re professional footballers. They want to play football.

“I listened to Chris Wilder and he was right, the majority want to get back to playing.

“I think there’s an important point here that’s slightly getting missed, specifically in League One and League Two. We’ve got hundreds of players out of contract.

“Those players need to play the last eight, nine games to showcase their talent and earn contracts.”

WYCOMBE WANDERERS

Likely vote: End season

While manager Gareth Ainsworth would ideally like to win promotion on the pitch, he accepts his view is unlikely to be shared by new owner Rob Couhig, especially given Wycombe would secure third spot if points-per-game was applied.

“Costs and finances are a huge concern, for my owner included,” he said. “From my own competitive point of view, give me the 10 games remaining because I think we’ll finish in the automatics at least.

“But it has to be safe, and we cannot be putting clubs out of business.

“We want to play but if it doesn’t make sense financially I understand my owner’s position.”

DONCASTER ROVERS

Likely Vote: Go with the flow

Playing on is likely to cost Doncaster Rovers in excess of £165,000 for COVID-19 testing alone and they also stand to miss out on around £400,000 in gate receipts. The club has remained neutral in the argument over the last couple of months and look set to continue on that path to the end.

IPSWICH TOWN

Likely vote: Play on

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The Blues have consistently stated their desire to play out the remaining games of the season, with owner Marcus Evans writing to EFL chairman Rick Parry recently to make his feelings clear.

Any lingering hopes of breaking into an expanded play-off tournament appear to have been dashed but the club is likely to stick to its guns.

GILLNGHAM

Likely vote: Play on

There have been some mixed messages from the Gills with manager Steve Evans happy to continue but chairman Paul Scally concerned about how much it will cost. The club would certainly be happy to continue if some financial assistance was provided. Official word is that they want to resume.

BURTON ALBION

Likely vote: End season

Burton’s chairman Ben Robinson remains unchanged on his stance that the season should be curtailed now. While sympathetic to the clubs in the play-off positions, he feels his club do not need the extra cost of playing the remaining nine games.

“For me, now I know what the impact would be, there is only one option and that is to void the season,” he added.

BLACKPOOL

Likely vote: End season

There hasn’t been much official word come from Bloomfield Road on the matter but all logic points to them voting to end the season, with little chance of promotion on the cards.

BRISTOL ROVERS

Likely vote: Play on

Rovers don’t have to play on as their league position is unlikely to shift from mid to lower mid-table, but there is a desire to give manager Ben Garner more games to continue his adaptation into League One ahead of next season, which will also give him greater clarity in assessing his squad before the transfer window.

There has been no official word from the club over their stance and likely direction but is also a strong sense of ideology being considered; that they are a football club, and a football club is designed to play matches for its supporters. That being said, there remains an understanding and obvious concern with the potential financial issues faced by others in the division.

LINCOLN CITY

Likely vote: End season

There has been a shift in the Imps’ stance on this with chairman Clive Nates engaging Peterborough’s owner Darragh MacAnthony on the matter via twitter.

He wrote: “That (ending the season) was not our preferred option but it has become clear over the last couple of weeks that the mood among clubs and from the EFL has changed as the reality of the situation has hit home. Just appears to be too many obstacles to complete the season by 31 July.”

SHREWSBURY TOWN

Likely vote: End season

Town chief executive Brian Caldwell has suggested that completing the remaining fixtures could cost his club £500,000 and so there is no willingness on their behalf to start again.

He said: “First and foremost, for us to play the remaining games isn’t right morally, in my opinion.

“I am not comfortable with bringing staff into the environment when it is such a critical stage and putting them at risk.

“Secondly, it is financial suicide for any club to gamble. Some of the clubs at the top end of the league are happy to gamble half-a-million pounds in order to facilitate the remaining games.”

ACCRINGTON STANLEY

Likely vote: End season

“When the time comes, if ending the season now is on the list, we will be voting for it” – Stanley’s chairman Andy Holt hasn’t really left people in any doubt with that statement on Twitter, recently.

He has also been critical about some of the rallying and chest-beating which has been going on at League One level and the fact clubs will have to fund their own COVID-19 testing.

MK DONS

Likely vote: Go with the flow

Dons CEO Andrew Cullen says sporting integrity was already damaged by what happened with Bolton and Bury earlier this season – but that his club would side with the majority in the vote.

He said: “Our position all along as been that we’ll be consistent with what the league wants to do. If the majority want to continue, then we’ll continue. But if we cannot carry on, we’re happy with points per game as a solution, with promotion and play-offs. We will look again at the solutions, what it means economically and for integrity.

ROCHDALE

Likely vote: End season

Dale’s CEO David Bottomley believes that the timescale required to get players fit in time to resume the season and avoid the problem of those who are out of contract at the end of next month means resuming the season is too difficult. He has also voiced concerns about the costs involved in COVID-19 testing and social distancing when travelling to away fixtures.

AFC WIMBLEDON

Likely vote: End season

The club’s CEO Joe Palmer believes the season is “moving towards cancellation” and the club has issued a statement outlining their preference for the season to be concluded early, citing that the health and safety of everyone involved with the club was their priority, although they do have sympathy with clubs who want to play on.

TRANMERE ROVERS

Likely vote: Play on

Tranmere’s chairman Mark Palios has vowed to fight any decision to decide the season on points per game, which would relegate his club.

“It is a hard-earned League One status that we will not just give away. It is more than the cash,” he said. “It is actually the pride of being a League One club. It is having the games against the likes, with all due respect to League Two, of Sunderland and Ipswich. That is what all the fans actually like.

“There is much more to this in terms of the League One status than just the cash impact which still hasn’t been measured.”

SOUTHEND UNITED

Likely vote: End season

Blues chairman Ron Martin’s preferred option would have been to see the season declared null and void – but with that seemingly off the table it appears ending the campaign now would be the next logical choice. The club are 16 points from safety and are effectively relegated in any scenario, although it’s been stressed they have yet to make their decision.

BOLTON WANDERERS

Likely vote: End season

Some might say Bolton were lucky to be starting the 2019/20 campaign – even with a 12 point deduction for going into administration – but they have rarely looked like climbing out of the bottom three and sit 21 points adrift of safety with 10 games to play.

The club has maintained in public that they would bide by the EFL’s decision and now, pressed for a decision, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess which way they will go.

Conclusion

If the 23 clubs vote as is stated here, that would see nine vote to play on, 11 vote to end the season now and leave three sitting on the fence. It’s likely, though, that both Southend and MK Dons would vote for the campaign to be ended now, leaving the EFL with sufficient votes to bring their framework into effect.

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