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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Coronavirus: Championship, League One, League Two fates to be decided by EFL board in meeting

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The EFL board will meet on Wednesday afternoon to discuss a wide range of issues following talks with clubs of all three divisions over the past week.

The board will look at three different situations currently facing the Championship, League One and League Two, in determining how to conclude the 2019/20 season.

League One is the most contentious issue, with the 23 clubs failing to agree to a way forward for concluding the season.

Unlike their League Two counterparts, there remains a number of different opinions between the clubs, with a small group wanting the season completed behind closed doors and a majority who want to see the campaign ended now due to financial and operational concerns.

The problem is that no matter what option is preferred, there will be winners and losers. Clubs in and around the play-offs feel they have still a good chance of getting promotion to the Championship, which would bring with it an increased revenue of at least £6m.

However, for most of the clubs, the financial implications of COVID-19 testing and staging games behind closed doors is unworkable and unacceptable.

League One clubs now have to decide, time is against them and that will be at the forefront of everybody’s mind at the meeting.

On the other hand, League Two appears to have found a way forward but while the indicative vote they agreed last Friday does give a direction, there are still hurdles to climb especially with the ‘no relegation’ issue.

For the proposal to become reality, a regulation change would be required – and during a season, that is an unprecedented occurrence.

The proposal has to be sanctioned by the FA, which has a place on the EFL board but will also have to take into account National League considerations. While the likes of Stevenage and Macclesfield Town have been able to breathe slightly easier over the last few days, it’s not set in stone that this request will be adopted.

For Championship clubs, it’s all about returning to playing games. A 42-page protocol document was sent out to all clubs this week, containing strict guidelines on a return to training and ultimately playing, and it is this which will be discussed at the board meeting on Wednesday.

Coronavirus testing will be carried out by Championship clubs on Thursday and Friday this week with results becoming known on Sunday, ahead of a proposed return to group training on Bank Holiday Monday.

The board members will want to ensure that all bases are covered in what will be an important week for the second tier of English football.

There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks, but there is a sense that the time has now arrived for decisions to be made, with a need for compromise essential.

Clubs will be required to cast aside their own agendas in some cases for the future stability of the league, and chairman Rick Parry will look to bring all sides together to achieve that.

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