Is Sunderland's season over? The next steps explained and the likely result of League One's vote outlined

The EFL this afternoon offered a major update on the fate of the 2019/20 season, dealing a major blow to Sunderland’s slim promotion hopes in the process.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Here’s what you need to know...

What have the EFL decided?

The EFL want fixtures to be fulfilled but have accepted that this may not happen.

Sunderland's promotion hopes look to have taken a significant blow this afternoonSunderland's promotion hopes look to have taken a significant blow this afternoon
Sunderland's promotion hopes look to have taken a significant blow this afternoon

As such, they have put in place a framework that would see tables settled on an unweighted points-per-game formula.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They are also insistent that teams must be promoted and relegated, and that the play-offs cannot be extended beyond four teams.

If their framework is approved, then divisions can hold a binding vote on curtailment.

A 51% majority would be required.

What are the next steps?

Clubs will now be given a ‘period of reflection’ before holding a vote on the EFL’s proposed framework.

This is because what they have suggested requires a mid-season change in the regulations.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In order to pass, this requires approval from the majority of clubs across the EFL, and also a majority of clubs within the Championship.

On the latter, a majority approval of the framework seems almost certain.

Championship clubs are generally eager to align with the Premier League and are eager to ensure the principles of promotion and relegation are respected throughout the pyramid.

In terms of securing a majority across all divisions, the EFL may have some work to do.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

During the indicative vote held last week, League Two clubs reportedly voted 20-4 in favour of having no relegation this season.

There are clearly clubs in League One who would support this principle, as well.

It is only once the EFL wins this vote, with the approval of 36 clubs across the three divisions and 13 in the Championship, that League One would be able to then hold a vote on curtailing the season.

How would a League One vote go?

Certain to favour curtailing….

In the event that the EFL framework is approved, then the relegation of three League One clubs would be certain.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In that scenario, Bolton Wanderers and Southend United would surely vote to curtail the season. Though they would benefit from voiding the season, this appears not to be possible and certainly will not be if the framework passes.

As such, with their relegation almost certain, it’s hard to see why they would want to play on.

Curtailing, and beginning the adjustment to life in League Two, would surely be their preferred option.

A number of sides close to the drop but who would survive under a PPG formula would also surely vote to curtail.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

AFC Wimbledon, Rochdale and Accrington Stanley would benefit from the EFL framework, and key figures at the latter two clubs have already expressed their preference for a curtailment.

Shrewsbury Town have already expressed a preference for curtailing given the financial costs of playing on this season, and given the significant developments at Burton Albion this week, it seems certain they would vote the same way.

At the top of the table, the current framework quite obviously stands to benefit Coventry City and Rotherham United.

The automatic promotion of the latter under a PPG formula would be hugely controversial, given their slender advantage over the rest of the play-off pack.

Likely to favour curtailing

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Wycombe Wanderers owner Rob Couhig has previously stated a preference for voiding the season, but this is not an option and his club leap to third when the unweighted PPG formula is applied.

You would also expect Lincoln City, MK Dons, Bristol Rovers and Blackpool to favour curtailing given they have little to play for, but there is one major caveat to add here.

Lincoln have already said they wish to have the full facts before voting, and one of the key unknowns for clubs is what rebate might be demanded from TV companies if they curtail the campaign.

There are major financial consequences to resuming the season, but potentially major ones if it does not resume as well.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

As well as broadcast contracts, there is also the issue of season card refunds to consider.

Sunderland CEO Jim Rodwell has called for more clarity from the EFL on what the costs of not resuming would be, so clubs are fully informed before they vote.

Certain to vote against curtailing

Sunderland and Peterborough United have already stressed their desire to play on, and given that unweighted PPG would see them drop out of the play-offs, they are certain to vote against it.

The rest of the ‘big six’ who publicly stated their desire to play on last week are Oxford United, Portsmouth, Fleetwood and Ipswich.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The first three are an interesting case in that they may have a calculated decision to make.

Playing on gives them the chance of catching Rotherham (and perhaps Coventry), but it also puts their play-off spot, guaranteed in the case of curtailment, at risk.

Portsmouth CEO Mark Catlin, however, pointed out earlier this week that for the bigger clubs, there are financial reasons for wanting to resume as well as sporting ones.

Season card rebates are a big issue for clubs with large fanbases and resuming at least raises the prospect of preserving some funds via streaming.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Gillingham have only slender hopes of making the play-offs, but Steve Evans has already said that his club wants to play on.

Likely to vote against curtailing

Tranmere Rovers have raised concerns about the financial implications of the current crisis, but an unweighted PPG formula would see them relegated.

They are bitterly opposed to this, having stressed that they have a game in hand and were in good form off the back of their January investment (three wins from three) before the lockdown.

Their fight is likely to be in the vote on the EFL’s proposed framework.

They will have plenty of support in League Two.

The big unknown

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

One of the clubs in an interesting position if this vote is held would be Doncaster Rovers.

Similar to Gillingham, they are very much outsiders in the play-off race, but still have a chance of making it if the fixtures are fulfilled.

They will have to balance that outside chance against the financial costs of resuming.

Predicted vote result:

Curtail: 15

Resume: 8