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MacAnthony: Fight to Play Season to Conclusion Goes On
Saturday, 16th May 2020 13:51

Peterborough United chairman Darragh MacAnthony insists the fight to play League One to its conclusion continues despite League Two clubs voting to bring their 2019/20 campaign to an early end yesterday.

On Thursday MacAnthony issued a statement on behalf of six clubs - including Town - who are keen to play the season’s remaining fixtures behind closed doors. It emerged last night that as many as 11 clubs in total are in favour of playing the campaign to its conclusion.

Yesterday’s conference call ended in an impasse with the rest of the clubs keen to bring 2019/20 to an early close, largely due to the cost of staging the fixtures. While all clubs would lose money from putting on the remaining games, the division's smaller clubs would be affected to a greater degree. A further meeting has been arranged for Monday.

“We’re still in there fighting. Just because League Two have voted one way doesn’t mean we will automatically follow,” MacAnthony told talkSPORT. “We will fight to the end. There are still things to debate and there are some mid-table clubs open to backing us. The fat lady is not singing yet.

“There is a good batch of clubs who want to keep playing, but also a good number who want to shut up shop. It’s bizarre. We are all in the football business and now we have a green light to play again, lots of clubs don’t want to play.

“There was an openness at the meeting [on Friday] which was good and I get the reasoning for clubs who don’t want to play, but the right thing to do is to play on whenever that’s possible.

“They might even use points per game (PPG) to decide final placings which means we would be screwed out of the play-offs as well. It’s deflating, but I am still fighting and there will be more meetings and discussions taking place.

“We have lost three of our last 10 games, we have nine matches left and five are at home. We really fancy it with the games we have left.

“How can it be right that the chance of promotion is just taken away from us? There are so many relevant factors that are ignored by using PPG. Wycombe would move above us [into Posh’s current sixth position] under PPG, but their game in hand is at Coventry who have lost three times all season. Who decides they would win that game?

“It’s just wrong on so many fronts. I even suggested if we had play-offs we should go for broke and have an 8-10 team tournament with matches live on Sky to determine who joins the top two in the Championship.”

While that idea appears to have been largely tongue-in-cheek, it’s not without its supporters, among them Sunderland manager Phil Parkinson, whose team is currently seventh behind Peterborough on goal difference.

“I think the fairest thing is, we would like to play the season to a finish, but another solution could be that teams who don’t want to play, and you can understand why teams in mid-table wouldn’t, don’t play,” Parkinson told the Sunderland Echo.

“But teams who are vying for promotion, can we have an extended play-off scenario? League One has been so tight all season. You look at teams like ourselves and Wycombe Wanderers [in eighth], not only do we think we can get in the play-offs, we think we can get it into the top two. Anything can happen in the last eight to 10 games.”

On the other side of the argument, Rochdale chief executive David Bottomley believes ending the season now is "the right thing” to do for the overall good of the game.

“As a club, we will ensure on behalf of all our loyal and wonderful supporters that we will do what we believe to be is the right thing during this current crisis,” he told the Dale official website.

"We will act as a fully responsible member of that collective group, and act with what we see as the best interests of our national sport and not decisions that potentially are made stemming from financial greed."

Shrewsbury chief executive Brian Caldwell also backs bringing the season to a premature end, which he believes is the majority view, with the cost to his club of fulfilling their remaining fixtures behind closed doors an estimated £500,000. On top of that there is additional matter of the coronavirus tests required for players and staff.

“The test regime, which is centrally arranged, was costed out and each club would have to pay between £125,000 and £140,000,” he told the Shropshire Star.

“The EFL still want to play the season if possible and safe to do so and they want to leave it to the clubs to decide if there is any curtailment of the season.

“There are some clubs in and around the play-off positions who are adamant they should play. However, from our club’s perspective, to play the remaining 10 games from a cost point of view with the potential of no crowds – you look at the cost of testing, the lack of furlough money, the cost of hosting games, the cost of travel to games, which will be three or four buses because we can’t travel on one bus to stick to social distancing rules.

“You are probably looking at the best part of half a million pounds to play the remaining games.”

Photo: Action Images

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Thai_Blue added 14:19 - May 16
Nice to see football clubs wanting to finish the season but in the current climate just how can you expect players to risk their health and play football when it's not safe to get a haircut or be within 2 metres of anyone.

62WasBest added 14:34 - May 16
Thai_Blue - All depends when it starts again. I think they should also vote to not resume again next season until they are sure it can be completed safely ie. when a successful vaccine has been developed, or else they may be repeating the same farce all over again come next year.
Still think it should be played out at some stage or abandoned with no relegation or promotion, as why bother at all if such issues can be decided by some arithmetical formula? The whole point of a season is that teams all play each other and have an equal number of games. Could you imagine racing a marathon and then having to abandon it at 16 miles and decide placings based on finishing order or some hypothetical based on an individual's season's performance to that point? Yet the football case is more critical because future income will be decided on the whim of whichever formula someone comes up with.

Wickets added 18:13 - May 16
Honestly there is no fair way , i tend to agree with your abandon with no relegation or promotion with the hope that we might be able to resume football with some sort of normality some time later in the year . OK not ideal and of course there are winners and losers but thats going to happen whatever is done .

BryanPlug added 18:37 - May 16
If DMac so desperately wants to complete the season, then by all means end it now.

Karlosfandangal added 22:00 - May 16
It’s about money. Teams who have no chance of going up know it will cost them money with no reward. Teams at the bottom and going down will lose money. The same as Ipswich lost £9 million from relegation,

This is never about player Safety.

When it’s safe to play just restart the season. The only thing will be players contracts.either extended them or just let the transfer window open. If Downes or Woolfenden get sold so be it. The transfer fees and wages will never be the same anyway.

dirtydingusmagee added 22:07 - May 16
bloody hell sort it out, the shops will soon be selling Christmas stuff.

Marcus added 08:57 - May 17
What about next season? If social distancing needs to last another year then something long term needs to be planned. How about finish the season later this year then have a half season behind closed doors and neutral venues with much improved and comprehensive television coverage. The whole concept needs reviewing and it can't be seen as a short term suspension of the normal.

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