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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