Covid-19 brings English Leagues One & Two to premature end
The English Football League (EFL) has announced that Leagues One and Two, the third and fourth divisions in the country’s football pyramid, come to an immediate halt.
The governing body of English football outside of the Premier League said the clubs in each league voted “by an overwhelming majority” to end the 2019-20 season.
Play had been suspended since 13 March as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, and while League Two teams had shown a preference to end the season, discussions with League One clubs failed to reach a consensus.
Most League One clubs had played 34 or 35 out of their 46 fixtures, with League Two teams playing 36 or 37 out of the 46.
The clubs today (9 June) voted on the EFL’s proposal to end the season, with final placings determined based on unweighted points per game if required. This saw promotion and relegation retained, with play-offs going ahead as planned.
This means League One sides Coventry City and Rotherham United are promoted to the Championship, the second tier of the English football pyramid, with Wycombe Wanderers, Oxford United, Portsmouth and Fleetwood Town competing in the play-offs.
The three bottom-placed teams, Tranmere Rovers, Southend United and Bolton Wanderers, are relegated to League Two.
From that division, Swindon Town has been declared champions, with Crewe Alexandra and Plymouth Argyle automatically promoted. Cheltenham Town, Exeter City, Colchester United and Northampton Town will all compete in the play-offs, which begin from Thursday 18 June.
Stevenage are currently propping up the bottom of the division, and facing relegation to the National League. However, the club could be granted a reprieve if Macclesfield Town is deducted points for failing to pay players, which would push them to the bottom of the league to be relegated in Stevenage’s place.
“Whilst it has always remained the board’s position to play the remainder of the season where possible, the decision reached at today’s meeting follows a full and considered consultation period with our member clubs,” EFL chair Rick Parry explained. “The board has endeavoured to listen to all views and alternative approaches but understands that the decisions taken will not be met with universal satisfaction from all clubs
“Today’s outcome ensures that the league and its clubs remains as faithful as possible to the previously agreed regulations and that there is consistency in the approach adopted across the EFL in all divisions if required.”
Parry added that the challenges faced by clubs as a result of Covid-19 were “unprecedented”, and thanked clubs’ contributions in making a final decision on ending the competitions.
In related news the second tier of the English football pyramid, the Championship, yesterday (8 June) set out its plans for resumption, with the first round of matches scheduled to take place from 20 June. Of the league’s remaining 108 games, 30 will be broadcast live on Sky Sports, with all games streamed on club websites for season ticket holders.
English Premier League, meanwhile, is due to restart on 17 June, with Aston Villa taking on Sheffield United, and reigning champions Manchester City playing Arsenal.