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EFL: Promotion, relegation will remain

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The English Football League (EFL) have released details on how they plan to play out the Championship, League One and League Two campaigns as promotion and relegation will continue between the second and fifth tiers of English soccer.

League Two had previously asked for relegation to be removed by the governing body of the second to fourth tiers has dismissed that request.

The EFL have accepted that it may not be possible to finish the season in the lower leagues and if that is the decision the final table will be determined on unweighted points per game, with promotion and relegation kept in place and a four-team playoff will decide the final team promoted from each division.

Clubs in each league will vote next week on the guidelines, which only need a simple 51 percent majority to be ratified.

After separate leagues met in recent weeks to discuss options, League Two and National League clubs have decided to end their respective seasons, while League One clubs cannot agree on the next step and Championship clubs plan to restart their campaign alongside the Premier League in June.

If points per game is used in League One and League Two, here’s how the top and bottom of the tables will look:

League One
1. Coventry City (promoted automatically)
2. Rotherham (promoted automatically)
3. Wycombe (playoffs)
4. Oxford (playoffs)
5. Portsmouth (playoffs)
6. Fleetwood (playoffs)

21. Tranmere (relegated to League Two)
22. Southend (relegated to League Two)
23. Bolton (relegated to League Two)

League Two
1. Crewe (promoted automatically)
2. Swindon (promoted automatically)
3. Plymouth (promoted automatically)
4. Exeter (playoffs)
5. Cheltenham (playoffs)
6. Colchester (playoffs)
7. Northampton (playoffs)

24. Stevenage (relegated to National League)

Several clubs across the lower leagues in England are in a dire financial situation due to the coronavirus pandemic and curtailing the season would release much-needed funds, as they will not be able to play in safe environments and afford to following the safety and testing protocols needed. However, there is a real concern that the lower leagues may not be able to start the 2020-21 campaign due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

Below is a look at the statement in full from the EFL, as they say there is “strong desire to remain as faithful as possible to the Regulations and ensure there is consistency in the approach adopted across the EFL in all divisions.


1. Resuming the 2019/20 season with the existing format remains the most appropriate course of action from a sporting integrity perspective, but the Board accepts there are circumstances that may lead to curtailment (as has been demonstrated with League Two) or a situation subsequently transpires whereby the season is unable to conclude.

2. This means that, in the event of an early curtailment:

Final divisional placings should be determined on unweighted points per game (if required).
b. Promotion and relegation should be retained.
c. Play-Offs should be played in all circumstances but should not be extended (beyond four teams).

3. If a scenario arises whereby the Play-Offs cannot be played, the EFL Board will determine the appropriate course of action.

4. The Board considers that the majority required to curtail the 2019/20 season in any division should be 51%. Determining whether or not to curtail the season is a decision for each division to take.

5. The principle of relegation across all three divisions is integral to the integrity of the pyramid, from the Premier League down to the National League, provided we have assurances that the National League will start season 2020/21 (i.e. the relegated Club in League Two has somewhere to play).

6. Any regulatory solution should be relevant and specific to the current challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak and reach a conclusion that is clear and effective with the impact and justifications easy for all stakeholders to understand.

England’s National League votes to end season

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The National League, which makes up England’s fifth and sixth tiers of soccer, announced on Wednesday that its member clubs have voted to end the 2019-20 season and cancel all remaining fixtures.

[ MORE: Netherlands won’t have soccer until at least September ]

90 percent of the leagues’ clubs supported the a motion to end the season as things stood when play was belatedly suspended on March 16. Some clubs has as few as seven games remaining, while games in hand left others with as many as 12.

Various options concerning promotion and relegation are “under careful and timely consideration,” as the National League sits just one level below the English Football League. Barrow sits top of the National League, four points clear of second-place Harrogate, at the season’s conclusion. Wealdstone and York top the National League South and North leagues, respectively.

[ MORE: Tottenham transform stadium into vital NHS testing facility ]

2019-20 records were expunged for all clubs below the National League, from the seventh tier downward, earlier this month.

A statement from the League read as follows:

In the knowledge that the ordinary resolution has passed, the League’s Board has chosen to communicate the decision now and before the last few responses are received, which will not change the outcome, to enable clubs to make business decisions with greater clarity as soon as possible.

English FA agrees to cancel majority of non-league season

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic the English FA have agreed to end the 2019-20 non-league season immediately with all leagues from the seventh-tier down having their results expunged with no promotion or relegation in the men’s game, while the women’s game will finish from tiers three to seven.

The fate of the fifth and sixth tiers in the men’s game remains up in the air as the board of the National Football League will meet for a second time on Thursday to try and come to a consensus decision.

Here is the the statement the FA released on Thursday confirming their decision.

“The FA and NLS steps three to six have reached a consensus that their 2019-20 season will now be brought to an end, and all results will be expunged. This will mean no promotion or relegation of clubs between NLS steps three to six, and no promotion to NLS step two. These decisions will also apply to the leagues and clubs who play at NLS step seven.

“We will continue to assist and support the National League (NLS steps one and two) to determine the outcome of its 2019-20 season as quickly as possible. The planned implementation of the restructure of the NLS will also now be deferred until the start of the 2021-22 season. Furthermore, we can now confirm that we have decided that all grassroots football is concluded for the 2019-20 season. This will allow the game to move forward and to commence planning for next season. Our County Football Associations (CFAs) will be supporting grassroots leagues over the coming days to determine how they should close out their current competitions.”

In terms of the women’s game, the FA Women’s Super League and Championship will continue but all leagues below that will now end with immediate effect.

“The FA and the leagues within tiers three to seven have reached a consensus to bring the season to an immediate end and all results will be expunged. This will mean no promotion or relegation of clubs between tiers three to seven. Agreement has also been reached to end the Regional Talent Clubs season, which was due to conclude in April 2020. We remain in consultation with the Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship Board and clubs regarding the most appropriate way to complete the current season, including for the Barclays FA Women’s Super League Academy.”

In the lengthy statement the FA also announced that it plans to continue the FA Cup, FA Women’s Cup and both the FA Vase and FA Trophy competitions “whenever it is safe and appropriate to do so” as teams are “close to reaching a major final and for those clubs and supporters we will do all we can to keep the Wembley dream alive.”

National League joins rest of world in suspending play

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The National League, which comprises the fifth and sixth tiers of English soccer (three leagues in total), has joined the rest of the soccer world in suspended its league play after bucking the trend and playing fixtures in front of crowds of up to 5,000 last weekend.

[ MORE: NL manager hits back at league for playing amid coronavirus ]

Six games were played in the fifth-tier National League Premier, along with 17 more across the sixth-tier National League South and National League North, on Saturday.

Just as the Premier League announced last Friday, the National League says it will not play any fixtures until at least April 3. From the National League’s statement, which can be read in full here:

At its Board Meeting on Friday, The National League decided to use its best endeavors to keep its season going in the face of unprecedented adversity.

However, with the current coronavirus (COVID-19) reaching global pandemic levels it has to accept that the situation is now out of its own control.

In the knowledge of the government measures now announced including not to support sporting events with emergency services workers it is clearly not practical for its fixtures to be fulfilled in the immediate future.

In those circumstances and in line with The Football Association and the Professional Game, at a Board Meeting today, The National League has decided that its competition is now suspended until at least April 3, 2020.

National League manager hits back at league for continuing play amid coronavirus

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Eastleigh manager, Ben Strevens, was unafraid to call out the National League for moving forward with schedule matches amid the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday.

Streven’s side fell 4-0 to Notts County in front of a crowd of 4,942 at Meadow Lane. With the Premier League and the EFL suspended, the match between both non-league sides unwittingly became the top-flight bout in England.

The reason National League games went ahead and the EFL games didn’t go ahead and the Premier League games didn’t go ahead is because whoever sits on the board of the National League cared about money,” he said. “Simple as that.”

“For the well-being of the spectators and it’s not only players because they’re young, fit athletes,” he added. “It’s nothing to do with that. There’s no way whatsoever these games should have been played. If the EFL are not playing them and if the Premier League are not playing them, then the National League shouldn’t be playing them.

Contrastingly, National League chief executive Michael Tattersall, who responded to Strevens, made no indications that the National League will rethink how they’ll move forward following this weekend’s action: “It’s not really a time for having an argument, it’s a time for reflecting on what’s happening in our society,” he said.

“We’re going to put out our own statement thanking everybody for their efforts today and sending everybody who is suffering from the virus or self-isolating all our best wishes.”

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