The potential denial of Reading’s promotion to the Premier League was threatening to throw the Championship play-offs into chaos after it emerged there was no rule in place governing who would replace them.
The EFL confirmed on Monday it did not have a fixed contingency plan for when a club is blocked from entering the top-flight, something the Daily Telegraph revealed was a threat facing the Berkshire side.
It said a decision over whether any third promotion spot was taken by play-off final losers or the team with the highest league finish would be taken by its board.
It did not confirm whether it was possible just two sides would be promoted, with only the Premier League bottom two relegated.
The Premier League, meanwhile, did not respond to requests for comment about what would happen in the unprecedented event of a team earning promotion to the world’s richest league and being forced to stay in the Championship.
That fate could befall play-off chasing Reading after the EFL last week provisionally approved a takeover of the club by Chinese businessman Dai Yongge and his sister, Dai Xiu Li.
Yongge failed to acquire Hull City in September amid serious concerns from the Premier League about the way the proposed buyout had been constructed.
And although it is understood the deal for Reading has been structured differently, the Premier League will not disregard Yongge’s failure to satisfy its misgivings about the doomed Hull buyout during any assessment it conducts of the new owners.
One precedent for a club being denied promotion to the top-flight came at the end of the 1989-90 season, when Swindon Town won the Second Division play-offs only to be demoted for making illegal payments to players.
Beaten finalists Sunderland – who had finished sixth that season – went up instead, despite opposition from third-placed Newcastle United.