EFL clubs in Leagues One and Two are expected to take a vote next week that could abandon the remainder of the 2019-20 season. According to Jason Burt in the Telegraph, there has been rising support from clubs in both leagues to not continue with plans to try and continue the season beginning some time in June, and a majority of the clubs in both leagues are ready to throw in the towel.
The Telegraph cites sources that “as few as three” League One clubs would vote in favor of continuing the season, but other clubs would consider suing the EFL if they were forced to play football against the will of their leaders and players. It also kind of makes sense — the amount of money that comes in from matchday revenue is probably significantly more important to clubs at that level than it is to the Premier League and Championship, meaning that playing matches in empty stadiums won’t be as much of a panacea as it would in the top two tiers. Either way, League One and Two clubs will likely need substantial assistance and financial aid from the league and/or government in order to stay viable, and it’s probable that some clubs will eventually fold regardless of whether play resumes this spring or not.
The vote to abandon would require 75% of clubs to vote in favor. Promotion and relegation, however, would still be on the table even if the season is abandoned, with the goal of trying to find a mechanism that would serve as the best possible outcome given the circumstances. That mechanism at present appears to be calculating positions based on points per game.
While divisions 3 and 4 on the football pyramid are not anywhere close to the same financial league as the Premier League or even the Championship, this would be a very significant domino to topple and would further increase the pressure on the Championship and Premier League to follow suit. At this point, that doesn’t seem likely — the Premier League in particular will be closely monitoring the status of the Bundesliga, which is hoping to restart in mid-May, as a bellwether to the feasibility of restarting league matches.
There is growing resistance to the idea of restarting football amidst the continuing COVID-19 crisis, both from players and staff members. Yesterday, a group of Premier League doctors submitted a 100-point letter to the league expressing concerns and asking for clarification on issues related to the Project Restart proposal, though it’s hard to quantify at present the overall feelings of the players and whether a majority would support continuing, or abandonment.