League Two clubs agree on how to end the season

Jamie Gardner, PA Chief Sports Reporter
PA Media: Sport

League Two clubs have agreed on how to end the 2019-20 season.

The fourth-tier sides gathered by conference call on Friday and the PA news agency understands the clubs were in favour of three teams being promoted automatically to League One, completing the play-offs to decide on one more side to go up, and on no teams being relegated to the National League.

A points-per-game format was discussed, with any formal ending of the season requiring a similar agreement being reached by League One – whose talks broke up earlier on Friday without a definitive outcome.

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Any decision would then require the ratification of the English Football League and the Football Association.

Swindon manager Richie Wellens – whose side were second in League Two when the competition was suspended – tweeted: “Even more good news today. Great day.”

League One clubs are expected to meet again on Monday after no definitive outcome was reached at their meeting on Friday morning.

Six third-tier clubs – Fleetwood, Ipswich, Oxford, Peterborough, Portsmouth, and Sunderland – said on Thursday that they were opposed to ending the season now on a points-per-game basis.

Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony tweeted on Thursday evening: “We as a collective are United in our goal to finish this season.

Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony says his club and five others are united in wanting to finish the League One season (Mike Egerton/PA)
Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony says his club and five others are united in wanting to finish the League One season (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We have no desire for voiding the season, PPG scenarios/letting a computer decide our footballing fate.

“For our fans/staff and for the integrity of our sport we are all looking forward to completing our pending fixtures/season under guidance from the EFL at a time it is deemed safe to do so. Thank you for your time.”

The teams involved are all in the top half of the League One standings, from Oxford in third to Ipswich in 10th. Teams in the division have between eight and 10 games left to play.

Rochdale chief executive David Bottomley said his club were firmly behind the EFL collective and would abide by the majority decision, but are in favour of ending the season now after the EFL said training could not resume until May 25 at the earliest.

He told the PA news agency on Thursday: “Our view now is that you have to end the season.

“The key date all along for the last five weeks has been May 18. If players could return to training then, there was a chance to conclude the season by the end of July, which is what the EFL wanted to do to avoid the issues of players out of contract.

“The word that has been bandied from the start by (EFL chairman) Rick Parry is integrity of the competition. I think integrity goes out the window on August 1 because all the players are gone.”

Parry told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee last week that for many clubs, playing behind closed doors would actually cost them money, and that finishing the 2019-20 season was overwhelmingly a matter of sporting integrity.

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