Coventry League One champions and Swindon win League Two; heartache for Tranmere and Stevenage who are narrowly relegated
Monday 15 June 2020 09:20, UK
Who profited and who lost out from the decision to determine the outcome of the League One and Two seasons with the points per game system?
On Tuesday League One and League Two sides voted to bring an immediate end to the 2019/20 season and decide final league placings by dividing points won by games played.
Inevitably, there have been teams which have benefited from the method and teams which have been negatively affected.
Here are the winners and losers…
Automatic promotion: Rotherham
Play-offs: Wycombe, Oxford United, Portsmouth, Fleetwood Town
Relegated: Tranmere, Southend, Bolton
Coventry can celebrate at last - albeit not in the style they would like to - because for the first time since 1967 they have been crowned champions of a division.
Their promotion back to the Championship has been on the cards for many months but behind them the race for the second automatic promotion spot and the four play-off places has been a close battle - and the final standings will leave many clubs wondering what might have been.
Rotherham, with 62 points from 35 games, grabbed the second automatic promotion place on the points-per-game system. However, six sides were within three points of them when the season was halted with almost a quarter of the campaign still to play.
Play-off qualifiers Oxford, Portsmouth and Fleetwood were all on 60 points from 35 games and will each have felt confident of overhauling the two-point gap to Rotherham across their remaining nine fixtures.
Wycombe could have been even closer - they would have moved from 59 points to 62 if they'd won their game in hand over Rotherham, although the latter's better goal difference would have kept them just ahead at that point.
But Wycombe will be thankful for a play-off spot at least after jumping from eighth to third - they leapfrogged Peterborough United into the play-off places because of the points-per-game system.
Unsurprisingly, Peterborough were one of the clubs unhappy about fixtures not being fulfilled with owner Darragh McAnthony telling The Football Show: "We'd won seven of our previous nine games, we'd had tough fixtures early on, but we played seven of the bottom nine in our last nine games. We'd have got automatic promotion, I'm superbly confident on that."
Sunderland, who had also earned 59 points but played 36 games, will also feel they could have moved into the top six during the run-in.
But Tranmere are perhaps the side hardest hit in the division. They were three points from safety with a game in hand when football was suspended. The Merseyside club would still have had to overcome a goal difference deficit to AFC Wimbledon if they'd won their spare game but chairman Mark Palios says the decision to relegate them will now have huge financial implications, estimating a £1m drop in income from gate receipts alone.
I have lost count of the number of chairmen who have sympathised at the unfairness of our plight, whilst still voting for it. However, sympathy doesn't pay wages or assuage a deep sense of unfairness.
In contrast, Southend and Bolton, also relegated, had seemed set for the drop for some time.
Automatic promotion: Crewe, Plymouth
Play-offs: Cheltenham Town, Exeter, Colchester, Northampton
It's been tight at the top of League Two but Swindon just edge the title on the points-per-game, given their game in hand on Crewe and Plymouth, who follow them into League One for next season.
Cheltenham may have felt confident of breaking into that top three - they'd have been just one point behind Plymouth if they'd won their game in hand - while Exeter would also have been hopeful of bridging their own three-point gap to the automatic places with nine games remaining.
However, they must settle for a play-off place along with Colchester United and Northampton Town. Those post-season games will be hard to watch for Port Vale fans - their side were just one point off the top seven, while Bradford - four points adrift with nine to play - will also wonder what might have been.
At the other end of the table, Stevenage are relegated… for now. Like Tranmere in League One, Stevenage were also three points from safety with a game in hand when football was suspended (again, with a worse goal difference than the side above them). But they may still earn a reprieve…
Second-bottom Macclesfield Town are facing a potential points deduction should an Independent Disciplinary Commission find them guilty of misconduct charges for alleged breaches of EFL regulations.