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EFL talks: League One play-off plan, Stevenage face relegation

Relegation across all three divisions of the EFL is "integral" to the integrity of the competition, the league's board has said

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Sky Sports News reporter Ben Ransom says the English Football League has provided its clubs with a 'clear pathway' to curtail the 2019-20 season

Sky Bet League One is set to be decided on unweighted points-per-game while Stevenage are set to be relegated from League Two after the latest EFL Board meeting.

There have been disagreements between the League One clubs over how to continue the campaign and, any decision to curtail the season, will only take place if the clubs vote in favour of doing so.

League Two clubs have already voted to end their season early, pending approval from the EFL and the FA.

League Two clubs agreed that three teams should be promoted to League One, the promotion play-offs should still take place and no teams should be relegated to the National League - but the EFL has now said that relegation across all three divisions of the EFL is "integral" to the integrity of the competition.

League One PPG Table

Team Played Points PPG GD
1) Coventry (-) 34 67 1.971 18
2) Rotherham (-) 35 62 1.771 23
3) Wycombe Wanderers (+5 places) 34 59 1.735 5
4) Oxford United (-1 place) 35 60 1.714 24
5) Portsmouth (-1 place) 35 60 1.714 17
6) Fleetwood (-1 place) 35 60 1.714 13
7) Peterborough United (-1 place) 35 59 1.686 28
8) Sunderland (-1 place) 36 59 1.639 16
9) Doncaster Rovers (-) 34 54 1.588 18
10) Gillingham (+1 place) 35 51 1.457 8
11) Ipswich Town (-1 place) 36 52 1.444 10
12) Burton Albion (-) 35 48 1.371 0
13) Blackpool (-) 35 45 1.286 1
14) Bristol Rovers (-) 35 45 1.286 -11
15) Shrewsbury Town (+1 place) 34 41 1.206 -11
16) Lincoln City (-1 place) 35 42 1.200 -2
17) Accrington Stanley (-) 35 40 1.143 -6
18) Rochdale (+1 place) 34 36 1.059 -18
19) Milton Keynes Dons (-1 place) 35 37 1.057 -11
20) AFC Wimbledon (-) 35 35 1.000 -13
21) Tranmere Rovers (-) 34 32 0.941 -24
22) Southend United (-) 35 19 0.543 -46
23) Bolton Wanderers (-) 34 14 0.412 -39

A club should be relegated to the National League, the EFL board states, "provided we have assurances that the National League will start season 2020-21 (i.e. the relegated club in League Two has somewhere to play)".

As well as setting out the principle on relegation, the EFL board says the play-offs should be played in the event of curtailment but should not be extended beyond the regular four teams.

It also says that the decision to curtail in each division should require a 51 per cent majority among the clubs concerned, with League One sides in open disagreement about whether to stop or play on.

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EFL chairman Rick Parry said: "In the event that a divisional decision is made to curtail the 2019-20 season, the EFL board is recommending that the league adopts the original framework with the amendments as identified, as there is a strong desire to remain as faithful as possible to the regulations and ensure there is consistency in the approach adopted across the EFL in all divisions.

"The board has always acknowledged that a single solution to satisfy all clubs would always be hard to find, but we are at the point now where strong, definitive action is needed for the good of the league and its members."

'Devastatingly harsh' - Tranmere vice-chairman

Tranmere currently sit 21st in League One and have a game in hand over AFC Wimbledon who are three points above in 20th.

As it stands, Tranmere would be relegated on points-per-game along with Southend and Bolton - a scenario Tranmere vice-chairman Nicola Palios does not believe is fair.

"It would be devastatingly harsh for Tranmere Rovers to be relegated on PPG when it is such a marginal call," she said on Twitter. "We have a game in hand and are 3 points behind. We were on a great run of form (WWW) having made the investment in Jan to ensure our safety - and it was working.

"How can it be fair that we are robbed of a chance to keep our place in L1, but other clubs are given a chance to take it?"

MP says EFL League One, League Two clubs could fold without Government bailout

An urgent and substantial Government bailout is needed for clubs in the EFL Leagues One and Two, otherwise, up to 10 clubs could go into administration within weeks.

That is the view of former Chair of the Commons Select Committee, Damian Collins MP, and the co-owner of League One Sunderland, Charlie Methven.

He said: "In the next few weeks we could see five to 10 EFL League clubs going into administration."

'We have earned the right to go up'

Joey Barton started managing Fleetwood Town in June 2018
Image: Fleetwood boss Barton wants to finish the League One season

Fleetwood Town manager Joey Barton on The Football Show

"I want to finish the season for the integrity of the competition - it is the only fair way," he said. "That is the easy thing to do (to vote to finish the season on a points-per-game system), it is the safety.

"But we think that… last season we were 11th and never in this picture, what would we have done in that scenario? We would have tried to play on and I do not know if that is right or wrong, but that is just the ethos of our club, our chairman Andy Pilley wants to do that. Our players want to do that, mainly because we think we can get automatic.

"We are in a great vein of form, the team is growing bit by bit, we have been to some of the toughest places in our division and got the right results and our lads are chomping at the bit to play on.

"We are a bit gutted that it will go to a play-off system, but also we are lucky that we still get a chance to play for our own future and it is in our own hands. And for most of our lads it could be the last-chance scenario to play in the Championship.

"We do not have the budget of some of these big clubs, Ipswich and Sunderland, our budget is £3m and theirs is £12m, 13m, £14m, £15m. And normally, we would not have a chance, so we are right in the mix this year and it is right that we get the chance to attempt to go up because we have earned it."

'There is no way I wanted to stop the season'

Gareth Ainsworth
Image: Ainsworth thinks his side can still finish in the top two of League One this season

Wycombe Wanderers manager Gareth Ainsworth on The Football Show

"We still think we had a good chance on the pitch of getting one of the automatics,"he said. " I watched Joey [Barton] earlier and my sentiments are the same as him. We have 10 games to go, we have seven in the bottom half of the table, we have been in the top two more than any other club this season - 20 weeks in total.

"And the only reason we dropped out that top three is we had Bury scheduled the week before the lockdown. So everyone has passed us, we were ready to play Burton the next Saturday and everything gets called off. Rightly so, by the way, I am not saying it should not be.

"So we still had plenty to play for on the pitch and again, Joey and Gary [Neville] alluded to it this morning - cost and finances are now a huge issue for clubs playing on. My own are included.

"So from a competitive point of view, give me the 10 games we have remaining because I believe we will finish at least in the playoffs, if not an automatic. But it has to be safe, everyone has to be safe before we come back.

"And we cannot be putting clubs out of business as has been alluded to as well. It is just not the right thing to do. So obviously I'm happy with the points per game because we do end up in the playoffs, but believe me, there is no way I wanted to stop the season. We were back in form, had some good players back to fitness and looking forward to challenging for these top two spots."

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