Thursday's soccer news starts with the English Football League deciding promotion and relegation will remain in place across England's lower divisions. That's regardless of whether or not the leagues complete their schedules. League Two has already decided not to resume, with the other leagues needing a simple majority to decide one way or the other. The EFL will use the table as it stood rather than using points per game to determine promotion and relegation.
"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)."
Stevenage is the bottom club in League Two, potentially swapping places with National League champions Barrow. National League 2nd-place club Harrogate Town would also move up to League Two, taking Bury's place with that club dropped from the league earlier this season.
The EFL is recommending that the promotion playoffs happen, which seems highly unlikely if a league cancels the remainder of its season. League Two promotes four teams, with 4th through 7th playing off for the final spot. The EFL statement specifies that "If a scenario arises whereby the Play-Offs cannot be played, the EFL Board will determine the appropriate course of action."
Whether or not that "appropriate course of action" is agreeable to lower division clubs is an open question. It might not be an issue in the Championship, with England's second division pushing to a quicker restart than the Premier League. The Independent's MiguelDelaney looks at why the Championship is having an easier time building consensus to restart its season.
Meanwhile, promotion and relegation has become the major issue in other leagues in Europe. Earlier this week, Hearts made it clear that they wouldn't take litigation off the table after getting relegated from the Scottish Premier League. Though perhaps not surprising, it adds further pressure on leagues that decide that they can't resume their seasons. Even for those leagues that do try to finish their schedules, there's no guarantee that their situations might change.
Where this leaves leagues is with multiple potentially difficult scenarios. Ending the season means choosing how to set the final table and whether or not to keep promotion and relegation. It's almost a guarantee that one or more clubs will disagree with any version of that decision. Resuming the season requires playing behind closed doors in a different environment that clubs could argue puts them at a competitive disadvantage. This could also end up casting doubt on a final table.
There could be easier answers here, but it would require top down leadership with leagues and clubs acquiescing to scenarios that might not favor them. So far, that's been as rare as the leagues that have ended their seasons doing it the same way.
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