With UEFA announcing today that they require leagues to make decisions about the remainder of the season, 24/7 football decided to look more closely at the effects of Covid-19 on lower tier football in England.
It has been rumoured that in EFL Leagues One and Two promotion may be decided through an eight team mini tournament. In turn this would mean no relegations for the 2019/2020 season, instead additional relegation places would be introduced for next season.
With a clear conflict of prioritising the opportunity to go up and trying to negate the effects of relegation, it goes without saying the league organisers have a real struggle on their hands. From the perspective of teams struggling at the bottom of their respective leagues, such as Bolton, Southend, Stevenage and Morecombe, this could be a blessing. A null and void season with no relegation could be seen as a ray of hope to recruit and rebuild for the upcoming season.
On the other hand it could simply just postpone their misery. Relegation was instated for a reason, in that the clubs which find themselves at the foot of the table simply could not cut it in their league. However, like with most football matches, no one result can be predicted. Condemning a team to relegation would be a subjective decision that those at the bottom would not have been able to change their fortunes in the regular season, an issue which would undoubtedly have been highly disputed by fans and clubs alike. Additional relegation spots next season could ensure increased competitiveness, delivering great football but with the cost of more heartache for those extra teams who face relegation.
Now turning interests to the top of the table, and the idea of a potential eight team play-off tournament. This in fact seems like a good prospect, in terms of competition and could produce some wonderful football games. Not only that but it will also includes some new and unprecedented traits. This idea would see eighth placed teams granted with an opportunity of promotion, great for them, but the higher placed teams will have greater competition.
Arguably the higher teams should experience a little more ease in promotion, in reflection of securing results through the duration of the season. In fact this method does recognise that this season is far from regular and holds the potential to be an exciting prospect of a new promotion scheme. Even if these games are held behind closed doors.
Which brings me to my next point. The play-offs. Wembley. Your team in the play-offs at Wembley. Would not dream of missing that would you? In what can sometimes be a once in a life time experience, the play-offs are the pinnacle of English League football. We cannot imagine the play offs being the same this season, with the sheer lack of competitiveness, nerves and atmosphere. It would cause a huge anomaly for this season, let alone the absent fan experience.
In this particular situation we are inclined to side with idea of the two top sides securing promotion as normal, with the teams in the play-off places staying put. With future plans in mind and with recognition of the play-off placed teams during this season, it would be interesting to see the 2020/2021 start with positive points on the board for play-off placed teams, to increase the likelihood of their promotion next season.
This season and the next as like any other, will see clubs struggling with the financial loss in relegation and the struggle with keeping up with monetary issues in the higher league after promotion. The EFL are tasked with finding an answer that will be best for these clubs, a conclusion which is continuing to become more and more complex.