'This has caused angst among some clubs' - Our Sunderland writers deliver verdicts on EFL plans ahead of crunch week

All eyes are on League One clubs this week as to how they will vote after EFL bosses outlined their plans to complete the 2019-20 season.

Sunday, 24th May 2020, 11:41 am

Third-tier clubs are set to vote this week on EFL proposals that would allow a 51% majority to bring an early end to the season.

In that scenario, the table would be settled on an unweighted points-per-game formula.

The top two would be promoted automatically, the bottom three relegated, and the final promotion spot settled by a four-team play-off system.

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Chris Maguire, pictured earlier in the season.

Here, our team of Sunderland writers have their say on the EFL plans as clubs gear up to vote later this week.

Phil Smith – ‘In such unprecedented times, you wonder whether enough flexibility has been shown’

“While the EFL have stated that their preference is for League One clubs to fulfill the fixture list, the proposal they have set down has very obviously cleared the way for curtailment.

Any vote may well be close, but it seems clear that the numbers will be there to force an end to the season.

Sunderland's Stadium of Light.

The other aspect is that the longer these decisions have dragged on, the harder it has become to envisage a full season being played out.

The EFL has been in a difficult position throughout and the desire to ensure some level of uniformity across the three divisions is understandable, but the PPG formula being used will throw up some hugely contentious decisions that are difficult to comprehend.

Rotherham United being handed automatic promotion with just a two-point advantage on four teams feels, as Joey Barton put it, like a 'lottery win' for them.

Tranmere Rovers' relegation will be brutal and Peterborough United dropping out of the play-offs with the fixtures they have left to play is questionable at best.

The costs of playing on are major, and it's absolutely right to say that sporting integrity cannot mean clubs going out of business.

Even those like Sunderland who wanted to play have conceded that outside help would be needed in areas such as testing.

In such unprecedented times, though, you wonder whether enough flexibility has been shown and one thing that has confused me throughout is a lack of clarity over how much clubs will have to pay back to broadcasters in the event of a postponement.

Surely clubs need to know that before they can make an informed decision?”

Mark Donnelly – ‘The vote won't be the last we hear of this’

“The EFL's latest guidance comes as no surprise - but has rightfully caused angst among some clubs.

In all likelihood, the resolutions put forward will be passed, League One will subsequently be curtailed and the table will be decided on an unweighted points-per-game basis.

But the EFL have a number of questions to answer.

Firstly, having said that they were exploring 'creative and innovative solutions' only last week, why has the notion of an extended play-off competition been dismissed?

Of course there are logistical challenges, but it could have quickly nullified any threats of legal action from teams competing for promotion. Their fate would have been decided on the pitch, not via a Zoom call.

And secondly, there needs to be questions asked over the voting process.

Wycombe, for example, are likely to vote to end the season. That would see them finish third and therefore be eligible to take part in the play-offs.

How then, if a side has voted to curtail the campaign - presumably with safety or testing concerns at the forefront of their decision - can they then decide it is safe to take part in the play-offs?

Every club is going to vote in its own best interests, of course, but this voting process threatens to undermine the credibility of League One.

Sunderland, who are one of the sides set to miss out, have already said they won't pursue legal action if the voting transpires as predicted.

But don't expect other sides, such as Peterborough, to lay down quietly. The vote won't be the last we hear of this, I'm sure of that.”

Richard Mennear – ‘Sunderland poised for a third season in the third tier’

“Sunderland are staring down the barrel of a third season in the third tier.

And the EFL guidance released on Thursday will have done little to ease fan concerns that the Black Cats won't be going up this season.

There is, of course, a school of thought that Sunderland don't deserve promotion this season anyway given the many lows of the past 10-months or so.

The form since Christmas has covered over slightly what in truth has been a howler of a campaign on the back of a disastrous summer following the collapse of the sale of the club.

The EFL's preferred option is to complete the season. However, they have made their plans clear regards what will happen in the event it is curtailed; the table decided via an unweighted points-per-game formula with just four teams in the play-offs.

A double whammy to Sunderland, who were one of six clubs to put forward the idea of extending the play-offs to eight or so sides.

It was a shame to see the EFL move so quickly away from 'creative and innovative solutions' however clubs had called for clarity and leadership from the EFL board and that is what they have got.

Sadly, many won't like the answers and this issue is set to rumble on and on throughout the summer, with some potentially aggrieved clubs already talking about the possible threat of legal action.

Sunderland have already stated they won't be looking to go down that route.

They will have enough on their plate coming to terms with a third season in the third tier and the financial fallout all clubs will be facing.”