Published: 00:00, 18 May 2020
| Updated: 12:06, 19 May 2020
An eight-team play-off to decide the third promotion spot in League 1 has been suggested and Gillingham could play a part.
Chairman, owners and chief execs of the third-tier clubs will be back discussing how to conclude the season when they get together for another online meeting this week.
Clubs were expected to get together with EFL chairman Rick Parry today (Monday) but it's reported that will not now take place.
The EFL are now understood to be holding a board meeting on Wednesday and they will then put forward some proposals for clubs to vote on later in the week.
Last week the League 1 sides failed to find a way of ending the season in a manner which would get a majority decision. Six of the leading sides are adamant they want the season concluded, many aren't so sure.
The Gills aren’t among the most outspoken but they could benefit from a season that is determined on a points per game average, elevating them to 10th place, up one from 11th.
One of the suggestions for concluding the season that has been tabled is for the top two to win promotion outright (Coventry City and Rotherham United) and an extended play-off competition to take place. That would involve teams from third down to 10th.
It’s not a new idea, it was mooted several weeks ago, but it could just be the one way of ending the campaign without upsetting too many people.
Peterborough at present are one of the teams who would lose out if the season was declared null and void, dropping to seventh on PPG average. Their owner Darragh MacAnthony is the leading voice for those teams wanting the season to be completed. He's threatened to sue if he doesn't get his way.
League 2 clubs agreed unanimously on Friday to end their season, deciding places on a PPG average and having play-offs, when it’s safe to do so. The EFL have said they would like the season to be finished by no later than the end of July.
The EFL have also said players should not return to training until May 25, at the earliest, leaving little time to get players back up to speed and get regular games completed.
What’s put most of the teams off completing their regular season in the bottom tier is the price of carrying on, with £140,000 needed for testing players and the backroom team of coronavirus on a regular basis. They would also lose out on matchday income as games would be played behind closed doors. It would be costing them to play matches.
Shrewsbury chief exec Brian Caldwell said it would cost the League 1 side £500,000 to continue. Teams would have to reinstate any furloughed staff, using the government job retention scheme, something many clubs have been reliant on since the season was suspended.
Some other teams have argued it would cost more to scrap the season, losing out on sponsorship, repaying season ticket holders and and potentially handing Sky TV back a percentage of their broadcast share.
Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson wouldn't be against an extended play-off situation.
He said: “Can we have an extended play-off scenario?
“League 1 has been so tight all season. You look at teams like ourselves and Wycombe Wanderers, not only do we think we can get in the play-offs, we think we can get it into the top two. Anything can happen in the last eight to ten games.
He added: “I think there is a solution which could probably suit everyone.”
Fleetwood Town are one of the clubs who want the season to be completed and their chairman Andy Pilley said: "We have signed up to a broadcasting and sponsorship deal and we don't know the consequences if we break that deal.
"Will there be a clawback? Will there be a reconciliation? The prospect of that is quite hideous, not just for the EFL but for the Premier League as well.
"We have to finish for the integrity of the competition. There are clubs and supporters in promotion chases, like myself.
"I fully understand there are clubs who are mid-table and are thinking, 'why should we finish it?' The reason is that they have already received the money to compete in this league.”
Rochdale chief exec David Bottomley wants it ended now.
He said: “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.
“And how can football possibly, from a moral point of view, even consider returning to training and playing right now when we’re still not adequately testing people who have got much more importance in life, like NHS workers?”
Mr Bottomley says the league should be decided on PPG, with two up and two down, with no play-offs.
An EFL statement prior to the weekend said there were “varied views” expressed by the teams in League 1 but said there was a need to “find innovative and creative solutions was of paramount importance” and to do it quickly.
Gillingham have nine games left and are currently sitting 11th in League 1. Both manager and chairman have previously said they want the season to be completed but also said recently a period of hibernation could be an option.
More by this authorLuke Cawdell