What next for the Championship, League One and League Two?

Following a key few days of discussions throughout the EFL, we explain what has happened and what could still happen.

EFL ball

What has happened this week?

An indicative vote was taken by League Two clubs on Friday. Voting was unanimous and all clubs decided that three teams will be promoted to League One, the League Two play-offs will still take place, and no teams will be relegated to the National League.

Clubs have been told not to return to training until May 25 at the earliest but there remains no further clarity on when leagues will return or any potential play-offs will take place.

Ending the current campaign in League One prematurely - and how to do so - is still an option, but the move has been met with criticism, particularly from Peterborough owner Darragh McAnthony, who released a statement on Thursday on behalf of six League One clubs in promotion contention re-affirming their desire to finish the season.

The EFL released a statement on Friday, which stated: "Representatives of League One and League Two Clubs have met today by division where they have shared a wide range of comprehensive views in respect of how the 2019/20 season is concluded.

"The rationale for playing the remaining matches has been fully debated with a particular focus on the issues COVID-19 has created in respect of health and wellbeing, ongoing testing requirements, player registration issues and the financial burdens Clubs already face at this difficult time.

"In the event of a curtailment of the season, the EFL Board outlined how this could be addressed through a framework that includes maintaining the principle of promotion and relegation, league tables to be determined via unweighted points per game (PPG) and Play-Offs to remain in every division to determine the final promotion place.

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"The EFL Board, whose aspiration has always been to conclude the 2019/20 season by completing the remaining fixtures, has previously stated that any decision on how to conclude the season is a matter for Clubs to determine in their respective divisions."

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As it stands the Championship is still intent on completing the season when possible, and their decision will remain linked to what the Premier League decide to do. Leeds and West Brom currently occupy the top two spots and will be keeping a keen eye on proceedings.

How could final standings be decided?

While League Two has set out its plan to determine the outcome of the season, the Championship and League One remain undecided.

The 'points per game' method and 'promotion on merit' are both being considered by clubs, and EFL chairman Rick Parry said he still expects three clubs to be promoted from the Championship to the Premier League.

"We expect three Championship clubs to be promoted - the Premier League are aware of our position on that. The Premier League expects three clubs to be relegated," he said.

The points-per-game method could either be unweighted or be weighted with home and away results rewarded differently, while 'promotion on merit' would see two clubs in League One and three in League Two (those currently in automatic places) get promoted, but no relegation. However, this option is dependant on a solution being agreed with the Championship.

Charlton boss Lee Bowyer has signed a new three-year contract 1:05
Charlton manager Lee Bowyer says relegating his team on a points-per-game basis if the Championship season can not be finished would 'kill' the London club

Charlton boss Lee Bowyer, in particular, has been particularly vocal against the use of PPG to determine the outcome of the season.

"It would kill our football club," Bowyer said. "We would struggle. I don't know the extent but it would be bad. We're not in a great position anyway.

"To be called as it stands today would be scandalous, it would be wrong on every level."

What is the financial impact on lower-league clubs?

preview image 1:12
Gary Neville says it is 'extremely unlikely' League One and League Two will resume their seasons without significant funding from the Premier League

Gary Neville, the Sky Sports pundit who is also part-owner of League Two club Salford City, warned that the cost of continuing the season would outweigh the benefits for lower-league sides.

"We're talking millions of pounds to invest in what would be health and safety protocols, neutral venues, all the logistics, the hotel costs of keeping club people and players in as safe environments as possible will be huge costs to the Bundesliga and the Premier League. And League One and League Two can't fund that. The clubs won't fund that," he told The Football Show.

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"You've obviously got added complexities that 50 per cent of players in League One and League Two are out of contract in two months and ultimately clubs don't want to pay them beyond those contracts so there will be no extensions available.

"I think also there's just a lack of willingness at League One and League Two levels to take the risk and go through all the economic risks. There [will be] no fans in stadiums, you'd have to pay players appearance money and bonus money - and the clubs haven't got the money.

"The only way in which football could happen in League One and League Two is if our friends in the Premier League were able to fund football for League One and League Two but I'm not sure at this moment in time they've got their own ship in order, so they're not going to look after League One and League Two."

Parry has also warned that clubs face a £200m financial hole by September.

Parry said the aim of the league remained to resume play when it was safe to do so, but he acknowledged playing games behind closed doors could actually be a loss-making venture for some clubs.

EFL headquarters in Preston, Lancashire 0:35
English Football League chairman Rick Parry has warned clubs face a £200m financial hole by September

"We would like to emerge stronger and leaner, with a proper reset post-COVID. We are heading for a financial hole of £200m by the end of September," Parry said.

"Clubs are stacking up creditors and there are a great deal of uncertainties."

Will Premier League decisions have an impact?

The biggest impact any Premier League decision will have on the EFL is their decision over relegation to the Championship.

As it stands, the Championship is expecting to promote three clubs and have three relegated to them for the start of next season.

Could neutral venues be used in the Championship?

An aerial view of the drive-through coronavirus testing centre at the Cardiff City Stadium

There are 326 games remaining across the EFL, excluding play-offs, and 108 of those are in the Championship.

So the prospect of using neutral grounds would be impractical and would require a huge amount of travelling and organisation.

What do we know about the play-offs?

League Two has set out its plan, while the Championship and League One remain undecided on whether they will follow a similar path or try and go in their own direction.

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If the league was to be completed in the normal way, albeit behind closed doors, the play-offs would be likely to happen also.

What's the timeframe for a decision?

Talks continue among League One clubs and are likely to do so over the weekend and into the early part of next week.

The Championship is more difficult to predict as it will be tied in, inevitably, to what happens in the Premier League.

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