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SOUTHEND UNITED’S five-year stint in Sky Bet League One appears to be at its conclusion after a statement from the EFL suggested that promotion and relegation should be retained.
Despite impressively seeing off Bristol Rovers by three goals to one in their final match before football was suspended, the Roots Hall Stadium outfit remained sixteen points from safety with eleven games remaining, having won just four of their thirty-five league outings to date.
Blues Chairman, Ron Martin, has suggested that the league should be declared null and void should the remaining fixture not be fulfilled, with Southend retaining their third-tier status. However, the EFL’s latest bulletin for clubs to consider appears to have left them facing trips to the likes of Morecambe, Stevenage and Carlisle come the new season.
The EFL statement came after several proposals and counter-proposals on how the season should be concluded. The recommended framework is as follows:
- Resuming the 2019/20 season with the existing format remains the most appropriate course of action from a sporting integrity perspective, but the Board accepts there are circumstances that may lead to curtailment, (as has been demonstrated with League Two) or a situation subsequently transpires whereby the season is unable to conclude.
- This means that in the event of an early curtailment:
- Final divisional placings should be determined on unweighted points per game (if required).
- Promotion and relegation should be retained.
- Play-Offs should be played in all circumstances but should not be extended (beyond four teams).
- If a scenario arises whereby the Play-Offs cannot be played, the EFL Board will determine the appropriate course of action.
- The Board considers that the majority required to curtail the 2019/20 Season in any division should be 51%. Determining whether or not to curtail the season is a decision for each division to take.
- The principle of relegation across all three divisions is integral to the integrity of the pyramid, from the Premier League down to the National League, provided we have assurances that the National League will start Season 2020/21 (i.e. the relegated Club in League Two has somewhere to play).
- Any regulatory solution should be relevant and specific to the current challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak and reach a conclusion that is clear and effective with the impact and justifications easy for all stakeholders to understand.
Meanwhile, EFL Chairman, Rick Parry, explained: “In the event, a divisional decision is made to curtail the 2019/20 season, the EFL Board is recommending that the League adopts the original framework with the amendments as identified, as there is a strong desire to remain as faithful as possible to the Regulations and ensure there is consistency in the approach adopted across the EFL in all divisions.
“The Board has always acknowledged that a single solution to satisfy all Clubs would always be hard to find, but we are at the point now where strong, definitive action is needed for the good of the League and its members.”