League Two has bowed to the inevitable and taken the decision to call it a day, not on safety grounds but because finishing the season threatened to plunge many of its clubs into even worse financial difficulties than they already face.
The loss of matchday income, the cost of Covid-19 testing, estimated at around £140,000 per club and bringing players back off the furlough scheme, led to a unanimous indicative vote to abandon the rest of this campaign. Some of the costs of curtailing the season which are difficult to assess include handing back cash to broadcasters, sponsors and season ticket holders, but on balance clubs are convinced by ending now they will be stronger.
The vote will be formalised within the next week, when decisions will also be taken on promotion and relegation, although the mood music points to a preference to continue with the play-offs for the final promotion place and not enforcing relegation.
The EFL said on Friday that the final table is expected to be worked out using an unweighted points per game model, which does not take into account both home and away form. If that is the case then Crewe Alexandra would be promoted as champions; if a weighted system is used, Swindon Town get the title. League Two clubs voted overwhelmingly that Stevenage FC should not be relegated.
The decisions on what happens at the top and bottom of the table will have to be ratified by the EFL board and the FA. It is also clear that however final positions are worked out the desire is to have a uniform formula that applies across all four top leagues. If a weighted formula was adopted, as the current tables stand, West Ham not Bournemouth would get relegated from the Premier League.
Clubs from League One also met on Friday and found consensus difficult to come by. In a statement the EFL said they would all talk again on Monday, “It was determined that there would be a further period of reflection and consultation to understand what creative solutions could be implemented. It was acknowledged that the need to find innovative and creative solutions was of paramount importance as was the need for decisions to be taken quickly.”
With so many different agendas, however creative, it will be very difficult to please everybody if it proves impossible to get back playing again.