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Coventry City and Rotherham United want to end League 1 season while Peterborough United lead the 'play on' argument as clubs cast vote

It’s make your mind up time for League 1 clubs but which way will they vote?

The EFL have asked all 23 teams to consider their options. They will be voting on whether to end the season now or attempt to resume from where they stopped in early March.

Rotherham United sit second in the table and want the season ended now Picture: Ady Kerry
Rotherham United sit second in the table and want the season ended now Picture: Ady Kerry

If they end it now, then the EFL's proposed framework - which also needs to be agreed - says points per game average would decide places. The Football League have said they still want promotion and relegation and the play-offs are a possibility too.

But if it’s decided to play on, then teams must try and get the season started and finished before the end of July, at which point out of contract players could be free to walk. The Gills only have eight senior players contracted beyond this season.

Fans might have to keep waiting for an outcome, however, possibly for another week.

Club in League 2 have already unanimously decided not to finish the season. It would need 12 clubs to vote for an outcome in a divided League 1, with a 51% majority needed.

Some like Peterborough United are adamant the season must be completed, others are sitting on the fence, while the leaders Coventry City are among those hoping it gets called off now.

Many clubs are worried about the finances needed to carry on the season when it will be played behind closed doors. Players would need to be unfurloughed and coronavirus testing would have to take place.

Gillingham chairman Paul Scally has to consider what is best for the Gills
Gillingham chairman Paul Scally has to consider what is best for the Gills

It’s worrying times for EFL clubs and they don’t have to look far for people predicting the worst. Huddersfield Town chairman Phil Hodgkinson has said up to 60 teams could go bust if clubs can’t figure out ways of addressing the financial mess the coronavirus crisis has left many in.

Kent MP Damian Collins has said the government should step in to help while others, including Gills chairman Paul Scally, have put forward the idea of the Premier League clubs helping those in the lower divisions.

Gillingham sit 11th in League 1 and could still creep into the play-offs with nine games to go.

Manager Steve Evans is determined to continue but chairman Paul Scally is rightly concerned about how much it will cost. The club would certainly be happy to play on if some financial assistance was provided.

Mr Scally has suggested the PFA could pay for testing which would at least help the financial burden on clubs. Peterborough co-owner Darragh MacAnthony agrees.

But what about the rest of League 1? Reporters covering each club have been asked what each club is likely to do. The options were either play on, end the season, or go with the flow. It could be a tight vote if this is anything to go by...

Coventry City (1st)

Likely vote: End season

Coventry are deservedly in pole position and, unsurprisingly, they won’t want to risk that by resuming fixtures.

"We believe that the situation should be dealt with the same way as a number of other countries have," said CEO Dave Boddy.

"France have produced a final table on average points per game and I believe Scotland have done something similar, so the mechanism is there.”

Rotherham United (2nd)

Likely vote: End season

Unsurprisingly with Rotherham second in the table and set for automatic promotion, they are happy to call it quits. Manager Paul Warne said: “I think that any team who was in our or Coventry’s position would expect and demand an automatic promotion. There’s no owner out there who would say: ‘Well, if we were second we would rather play on.’ Why would you risk your automatic position?”

Oxford United (3rd)

Likely vote: Play on

Oxford’s managing director Niall McWilliams said: “We have said all along that we think the fairest way to decide the league is by playing matches, always with the proviso that it is done with the health and safety of our players and staff as the priority. The EFL has asked clubs to give their views and ours will categorically be ‘let’s play’.”

Portsmouth (4th)

Likely vote: Play on

Portsmouth’s chief executive Mark Catlin has been consistent in his view that the season should be resumed. He said: “It’s a difficult situation but we continue to press with a number of other clubs to actually finish the season on the pitch, under government guidelines and when safe to do so. We have been consistent in that view.”

Fleetwood Town (5th)

Likely vote: Play on

Joey Barton has championed the resumption of fixtures and though his club’s play-off place is secured, the Fleetwood boss is still keen to get his players out on the pitch.

“We have to return to normality because if we don’t, then at some point the economy will fail and the football economy is already creaking now,” he said.

“We’ve got to get moving is my take. I’m happy to take that calculated risk based on everything I’ve been told about testing and about the distancing in place.

“If we don’t get back moving what are we going to do? Just sit and stay in our house and watch people go out of business?”

Peterborough United (6th)

Likely vote: Play on

Darragh MacAnthony has been among the most vocal on the subject of resuming the campaign and remains firmly of the belief football should be resumed when safe to do so.

He has, however, withdraw his threat to take legal action against clubs who vote to end the season.

“I did legal advice, as did many clubs, as it’s the sensible thing to do in business,” he said.

“But I was tired last week when I made those comments about sueing other clubs. It’s not something we will be doing.”

Sunderland (7th)

Likely vote: Play on

Sunderland can only be promoted in one scenario, and that’s if the season is completed on the pitch.

The club’s CEO also believes his players want to resume competitive football to prove they can earn contracts for next season.

“Our players that Phil (Parkinson) is in daily contact with, want to play,” Rodwell told talkSPORT. “They're professional footballers. They want to play football.

“I listened to Chris Wilder and he was right, the majority want to get back to playing.

“I think there's an important point here that's slightly getting missed, specifically in League One and League Two. We've got hundreds of players out of contract.

“Those players need to play the last eight, nine games to showcase their talent and earn contracts.”

Wycombe Wanderers (8th)

Likely vote: End season

While manager Gareth Ainsworth would ideally like to win promotion on the pitch, he accepts his view is unlikely to be shared by new owner Rob Couhig, especially given Wycombe would secure third spot if points-per-game was applied.

“Costs and finances are a huge concern, for my owner included,” he said. “From my own competitive point of view, give me the 10 games remaining because I think we'll finish in the automatics at least.

“But it has to be safe, and we cannot be putting clubs out of business.

“We want to play but if it doesn’t make sense financially I understand my owner’s position.”

Doncaster Rovers (9th)

Likely Vote: Go with the flow

Playing on is likely to cost Doncaster Rovers in excess of £165,000 for COVID-19 testing alone and they also stand to miss out on around £400,000 in gate receipts. The club has remained neutral in the argument over the last couple of months and look set to continue on that path to the end.

Ipswich Town (10th)

Likely vote: Play on

The Blues have consistently stated their desire to play out the remaining games of the season, with owner Marcus Evans writing to EFL chairman Rick Parry recently to make his feelings clear.

Any lingering hopes of breaking into an expanded play-off tournament appear to have been dashed but the club is likely to stick to its guns.

Burton Albion (12th)

Likely vote: End season

Burton’s chairman Ben Robinson remains unchanged on his stance that the season should be curtailed now. While sympathetic to the clubs in the play-off positions, he feels his club do not need the extra cost of playing the remaining nine games.

"For me, now I know what the impact would be, there is only one option and that is to void the season," he added.

Blackpool (13th)

Likely vote: End season

There hasn’t been much official word come from Bloomfield Road on the matter but all logic points to them voting to end the season, with little chance of promotion on the cards.

Bristol Rovers (14th)

Likely vote: Play on

Although 14th-placed Rovers have essentially nothing to play for in a tangible sense, outside of improving their league position by a few places, Bristol Live understands there is a consensus within the club of wanting to fulfil their remaining nine fixtures.

Lincoln City (15th)

Likely vote: End season

There has been a shift in the Imps’ stance on this with chairman Clive Nates engaging Peterborough’s owner Darragh MacAnthony on the matter via twitter.

He wrote: "That (ending the season) was not our preferred option but it has become clear over the last couple of weeks that the mood among clubs and from the EFL has changed as the reality of the situation has hit home. Just appears to be too many obstacles to complete the season by 31 July."

Shrewsbury Town (16th)

Likely vote: End season

Town chief executive Brian Caldwell has suggested that completing the remaining fixtures could cost his club £500,000 and so there is no willingness on their behalf to start again.

He said: “First and foremost, for us to play the remaining games isn’t right morally, in my opinion.

“I am not comfortable with bringing staff into the environment when it is such a critical stage and putting them at risk.

“Secondly, it is financial suicide for any club to gamble. Some of the clubs at the top end of the league are happy to gamble half-a-million pounds in order to facilitate the remaining games.”

Accrington Stanley (17th)

Likely vote: End season

“When the time comes, if ending the season now is on the list, we will be voting for it” – Stanley’s chairman Andy Holt hasn’t really left people in any doubt with that statement on Twitter, recently.

He has also been critical about some of the rallying and chest-beating which has been going on at League One level and the fact clubs will have to fund their own COVID-19 testing.

MK Dons (18th)

Likely vote: Go with the flow

Dons CEO Andrew Cullen says sporting integrity was already damaged by what happened with Bolton and Bury earlier this season – but that his club would side with the majority in the vote.

He said: "Our position all along as been that we'll be consistent with what the league wants to do. If the majority want to continue, then we'll continue.But if we cannot carry on, we're happy with points per game as a solution, with promotion and play-offs. We will look again at the solutions, what it means economically and for integrity.

Rochdale (19th)

Likely vote: End season

Dale’s CEO David Bottomley believes that the timescale required to get players fit in time to resume the season and avoid the problem of those who are out of contract at the end of next month means resuming the season is too difficult. He has also voiced concerns about the costs involved in COVID-19 testing and social distancing when travelling to away fixtures.

AFC Wimbledon (20th)

Likely vote: End season

The club’s CEO Joe Palmer believes the season is “moving towards cancellation” and the club has issued a statement outlining their preference for the season to be concluded early, citing that the health and safety of everyone involved with the club was their priority, although they do have sympathy with clubs who want to play on.

Tranmere Rovers (21st)

Likely vote: Play on

Tranmere’s chairman Mark Palios has vowed to fight any decision to decide the season on points per game, which would relegate his club.

"It is a hard-earned League One status that we will not just give away. It is more than the cash,” he said. "It is actually the pride of being a League One club. It is having the games against the likes, with all due respect to League Two, of Sunderland and Ipswich. That is what all the fans actually like.

"There is much more to this in terms of the League One status than just the cash impact which still hasn't been measured."

Southend United (22nd)

Likely vote: End season

Blues chairman Ron Martin’s preferred option would have been to see the season declared null and void – but with that seemingly off the table it appears ending the campaign now would be the next logical choice. The club are 16 points from safety and are effectively relegated in any scenario.

Bolton Wanderers (23rd)

Likely vote: End season

End season… End the misery. Some might say Bolton were lucky to be starting the 2019/20 campaign – even with a 12 point deduction for going into administration – but they have rarely looked like climbing out of the bottom three and sit 21 points adrift of safety with 10 games to play.

The club has maintained in public that they would bide by the EFL’s decision and now, pressed for a decision, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess which way they will go.

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