Martin insists the EFL must maintain the competition’s integrity

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SOUTHEND UNITED Chairman, Ron Martin, has taken to the Blues official website, calling for the 2019/20 EFL season to be declared null and void amidst continued confusion over the coronavirus pandemic.

Blues were hurtling towards relegation to the bottom tier before their Sky Bet League One campaign was suspended in early March; “People will cite voiding the season is based on self-interest; they are not wrong. The interests of Southend United must come first,” Mr Martin confirmed.

“By the time people read this, the Prime Minister would have advised us all of the next steps to defeating or perhaps living with, coronavirus,” he continued. 

“It does not sound as if Boris Johnson will be letting the brakes off any time soon. We can anticipate a very gradual ‘easing’ – That step-by-step approach must be right if we are not to undo all the good work everyone is contributing through lockdown, including the tremendous work of the NHS and key workers.

“So a step by step, tapered strategy, seems likely until a vaccine and/or treatment is available.

“Therefore football with crowds looks to be many months away. Football behind closed doors too has its challenges without a vaccine.

“Football will return and until it does we have to manage the club’s interest with great care.

“The Prime Minister’s ‘roadmap’ to unlocking should better inform us when that is likely to be.

“But what about this season? That looks virtually certain to be at an end.

Concluding the season without completing the fixtures conjures up a whole host of potential outcomes. Unsurprisingly, the Blues chief insisted that the Roots Hall outfit should remain in League One, questioning the integrity of the competition should any other means be used to produce a final table

“Which league will we be in when football restarts?” Martin continued.

“The English Football Leagues are predicated on that famous, in my opinion, overused phrase; the integrity of the competition must be maintained.

“With nine or ten games to go the integrity is impaired, in fact, damaged beyond repair. The competition we started last August is no longer recognisable. If we are unable to finish the season, is allocating an average points per game fair? of course not. This is a football competition, potentially with many twists and turns, not a pub quiz. Peoples livelihoods are at stake.

“People will cite voiding the season is based on self-interest; they are not wrong. The interests of Southend United must come first.

“No Chairman of any other club, if he is being honest, would argue differently. There is self-interest in every club in each league and it is for this reason that the integrity of the competition is said to be paramount. If the competition cannot be finished, then it should be voided.

“As every alternative to voiding the season is sub-optimal and not capable of maintaining sporting integrity, a line, in all reasonableness, must be drawn under the 19/20 campaign.

“This decision would also best maintain the financial status quo among clubs as it reflects the budgets they started the season with. The challenges going forward, as matters stand, are enough to contend with, let’s not compound that further as a result of a quizmaster!”

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Brian Jeeves

Email: [email protected]