What we know about where Sunderland and their League One rivals stand on what happens next - on and off the pitch

The EFL said over the weekend that it remains committed to finishing the current season on the pitch.

Monday, 27th April 2020, 2:30 pm

Their statement was in response to reports that they have begun discussing potential solutions to not being able to fulfill the remaining fixtures due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

One solution touted was an eight team mini-league to determine a promotion winner.

The EFL stressed that the situation remains in the hands of the government, and that it also has some key questions to consider.

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Sunderland are waiting news on what will happen next to their season

Primarily, how it can ensure it has a testing system in place that protects players and staff, and does not detract from the testing of key workers.

The financial implications of playing behind closed doors are also significant and as such, discussions over potential solutions are ongoing.

Calls for salary caps throughout the lower leagues are growing.

So what can we expect next?

Here, we collate what clubs throughout League One have been saying about what they want and expect to happen next….


Chairman Andy Holt has been the most vocal critic in the division of the EFL’s plans to compete the season behind closed doors.

He has argued that the season should be ended now, with league positions either frozen as they are now or determined by a pools panel determining the results of the fixtures still to be fulfilled.

He recently told the Daily Mail: “As things stand, it will cost us half a million pounds to finish this season, if that's what the EFL decide they want to do.

'I would rather use that money on beginning to rebuild football next season instead of spending three more months now watching it die.

'We will do whatever we have to do to survive. If it is a choice for us between playing dead rubber fixtures or surviving, we will be surviving. The main risk for Accrington Stanley is for the EFL to force us to spend money we have not got on games that do not matter to us.

'If everyone is playing kids, it will be a farce anyway. Freezing the season as it is now would be more representative of the season than teams playing against a load of kids to complete it.”

His key concern is that using the club’s cash reserves and payments advanced from the EFL and Premier League to finish this season will lead to a disaster next.

Holt has also taken to social media to share the concerns of his manager, John Coleman.

The EFL have said that they are considering how to mitigate against the impact of the revenue clubs will lose by playing behind closed doors.


Relegation to League Two looks all but certain for Bolton, and so resuming the season could potentially bring a number of problems as they look to begin adapting to what is likely to be a very different climate next season.

However, CEO Emma Beaugeard has said that they will respect any ruling from the EFL: “Finishing the season, or not, is not our call at the present and we would comply with whatever ruling is given.”


Top of the table after a stunning run of form, it is clearly in Coventry’s interested to complete the season in some capacity.

Chief Executive Dave Boddy has said that he suspects it is ‘inevitable’ that football will be behind closed doors when it does return.

Manager Mark Robins has warned that clubs will need a month on the training ground to prepare players for any return.


Fleetwood Town remain firmly in the hunt for automatic promotion and chairman Andy Pilley has been vocal in insisting that the season must be played to a conclusion.

He recently told the BBC: “My view is that first and foremost we have to finish the season for the greater good.

“The reason for that is we have signed up to a broadcasting and sponsorship deal and we don't know the consequences if we break that deal.

"Will there be a clawback? Will there be a reconciliation? The prospect of that is quite hideous, not just for the EFL but for the Premier League as well.

"We have to finish for the integrity of the competition also. There are clubs and supporters in promotion chases, like myself.

"There are clubs, I fully understand, who are midtable and are thinking, 'Why should we finish it?' But the reason is that they have already received the money to compete in this league.”

Pilley has also suggested that League One and Two clubs could benefit in future campaigns from the divisions being regionalised.

He is also in favour of a wage cap being introduced.


Chairman Paul Scally has been a vocal critic of the game’s response to the current crisis and has called for far greater financial measures to be introduced.

Though their play-off hopes are remote, they remain of the belief that the season should be concluded.

However, manager Steve Evans has said that the season cannot continue beyond the end of July and that if it can’t be concluded before then, it should be declared null and void.

This is a key issue as many clubs believe that as players whose contracts expire at the ned of June are paid through July anyway, they could be expected to continue playing during that time.

“I am very focused that we will hopefully go back to football,” Evans told Kent Online.

“There are lots of things we need to overcome.

“If we are not playing by July then I think then results expunged.

"It would hurt the teams that I love enormously, teams like Leeds United. I have love for Peterborough United and I have a love in Scotland for Celtic to be champions.

"But, at the end of the day, if you can’t play the games, forget points average, forget everything. This is unprecedented and it should be season expunged and people start again, start again as we started last summer.”


Their promotion hopes have taken a major hit in recent weeks and months but Ipswich remain open to completing the season behind closed doors.

“There are a few reasons this season has to finish,” Paul Lambert told the club website earlier this month.

“For us, we have a good chance to be involved in the promotion race and for football in general, there are too many questions left to answer for the season to be null and void.

“In an ideal world, we will finish the season with supporters in stadiums. The timescale is the problem, we just don’t know when we will be able to start again.

“We may have to accept that we play behind closed doors when the season resumes. I don’t like that. Football is for the fans and I can guarantee you that it won’t feel the same if you are winning games and lifting trophies if there are no fans there.

“Liverpool have waited 30 years to win the League. Imagine them celebrating at Anfield with no one there.

“People’s lives are more important than football though and if it means we have to go down the closed doors route, we will just have to accept it.”

Lambert has also warned that players will need what would effectively be a ‘pre-season’ to be ready to resume action.


Chief Executive Liam Scully recently took to twitter to tell supporters that while ‘progress had been made’, no decisions had been made on the completion of the season.

He did say earlier this month that completing it on the pitch has to remain a priority.

“Not least for the integrity of the game, for promotion, relegation and because people put their hard-earned money into football clubs at the start of the season based on seeing outcomes,” he told Lincolnshire Live at the start of this month.

“We’ve got to do absolutely everything in our power to complete the season, whatever that may look like.

“It might not look like a traditional campaign, be that behind closed doors, even at central venue tournaments, whatever it may be.

“But Club A versus Club B, 11 versus 11, on a grass pitch – completing the games is something that we have to work collectively for.”


Managing director Niall McWilliams has represented his club, currently pushing for promotion, at EFL meetings during the crisis.

He says finishing the season is a priority and that the vast majority of League One holds this view as things stand today.

“It would cause so many ructions otherwise,” he told the Oxford Mail.

“You can see what’s happening in Scotland, Holland and Belgium where they’ve done it.

“It would cause so many threats of legal battles.”

“Honestly, hand on my heart if we were third bottom or just outside the relegation zone I would still be saying it needs to be finished.

“In League One we’ve only had a couple of dissenting voices,” he added.

“(Overall) it’s not changed in the last few weeks.”


Chairman Darragh MacAnthony has been one of the most vocal figures in the division, insisting that the season must be played to a conclusion.

Speaking on his podcast over the weekend, he said he had spoken to EFL Chairman Rick Parry and that this remained the league’s main target.

“Rick Parry rang me and we had a good chat,” MacAnthony said.

“The EFL are firmly in agreement with me in that they want the season to finish and I have every confidence in Rick and his team.

“He certainly does not want the EFL tied up in lawsuits for years to come which is what would follow voiding the season.

“Me and my partners have invested everything to try and win promotion this season and we can’t stop now that we have played so much of the season.”


Chief Executive Mark Catlin has spoken over the weekend regarding his hope that the current season can yet be completed.

He is another to suggest that the end of July could be a critical date due to player contract.

“There’s a lot going on and a lot of preparation happening,” he told the Portsmouth News.

“I’d got to a stage where I was thinking finishing the season was a bit of a forlorn hope - but now we are seeing a concerted effort from the government.

“Really that’s been the thing. It’s not been the football authorities, it’s the government.

“We can have an input but this is a much bigger problem than just being football related. It’s out of our hands to a degree.

“The talks I was in on Friday there was a suggestion high-level talks had taken place between the Premier League and government, to try to make a few exceptions for football to just lift the mood of the country - if it’s safe to do so.

“It definitely seems to have some foundation now.”

Catlin has previously suggested that the summer window could be left open right through to the end of next January as one way of helping clubs through the current crisis.

He also stated that his personal opinion (rather than that of his club’s necessarily) is tat if the season can’t be completed on the pitch, it would not be fair to use a points-per-game formula to settle promotion or relegation matters.


Chief Executive Brian Caldwell told the Shropshire Star that the financial repercussions of finishing the season could be significant.

While sceptical of how it would be implemented, he also suggested that his club would be in favour of a wage cap being introduced. He also said that he does not believe the regionalisation of the leagues would offer much financial benefit.


With their relegation seemingly certain, Chairman Ron Martin said in March that the season should be declared null and void.

He said: “If the season was extended for a couple of months it has a knock-on effect for next season and then when does it stop?

“That’s the reason why it makes good sense to draw a line under it now and say it’s the end before starting the new season afresh in August.

“I think there are too many games to go to draw a line under the season and say the table stays as it is now because there would be many dissatisfied and hugely upset clubs.


Darragh MacAnthony told the Echo last week that Richard Hill, Head of football operations on Wearside, had emailed him to express the club’s support of his stance.

“I got a lovely email from Sunday morning from Richard Hill,” MacAnthony said.

“Myself and Richard have sparred over the Marcus Maddison stuff, and that’s football.

“You can’t fall out with people in football – I think Stewart Donald dug me out on Twitter about the Maddison thing as well, and that irritated me as I’d always spoken in his favour.

“But it was nice from Richard. He just said ‘keep doing what you’re doing, everyone here at Sunderland is in full agreement with what you’re saying.’

“So that was nice to have.”


Tranmere currently sit in the final relegation place, though they are just three points behind AFC Wimbledon and have played a game less.

They want to conclude the current season, though Chairman Mark Palios has raised concerns over the financial impact of playing behind closed doors.


Despite his side still sitting in the play-off spots, owner Rob Couhig says he believes the season should end.However, he has said the club will respect any final EFL decision.

He told BBC Three Counties Radio: "Would we not be better off saying 'you know what, we're done' - let us pick up again in the middle of August when, by almost every estimate, 90% of the [coronavirus] problems will have been dealt with?”

"I'm not going to stand up on my high horse and say I'm not gonna play, but it sure as heck makes no sense to me.

"Let's have us a heck of a 2021 season from top to bottom with the sense of renewal.

"Nobody was more excited - April was going to be our biggest month ever."