Right about now, we should be looking back on the end of the (regular) 2019-20 League Two season – and knowing whether we’d be staying up or not. For those who still know which day of the week it is, this weekend just gone would’ve taken us to Carlisle. Would there still be something for us to play for at Brunton Park? Who knows. It’d require us to have spent the last five-or-six weeks flipping the form table on its head.
But that ain’t impossible. Not in football. It just wasn’t very likely. And now here we are.
Now is the time that four sides should be planning for the 2019-20 League Two playoffs. Not that the other 20 sides really care. We’re not involved. So, we have no interest. We can’t even tell you who the four are meant to be. Mind you, that could well be down to a) not looking at the top end of the table for quite some time and b) forgetting anything we knew about football in the Covid-19 shutdown. Are Woking still a thing?
2019-20 League Two: Not The End of Season
In some worlds and universes, it is the end of the season. Sky Sports roped in Football Manager to see how it’d pan out. Not well for us is the main takeaway; Boro’ ending up four points adrift at the foot of the table. That’s not all that bad when you consider we’re currently cut loose by 10. But back-to-back wins after our relegation was confirmed will probably make things look better than they actually our.
As you’ll know, we turned to our FIFA 20 Verdict for the answer. It only looks at how our season turns out because we didn’t have the time or desire to work out every single last fixture. That and it’s not renowned for being right. But it gave us a fighting chance.
In reality, however, the fate of the 2019-20 League Two campaign is far less certain. The EFL is “committed” to seeing it over the line. Knowing when that could be is like knowing the length of a piece of string. Just think of one scenario – forcing games to be played in some tournament-style set-up with squads half-full (or empty?) of players out of contract and no fans in the stadium. Yeah. Sounds ideal, don’t it.
It’s probably why the National League and those below have knocked it on the head. Not that it’s without problems, though. Some are getting in a tizz about their promotion hopes. Barrow believe not being allowed up would be “harsh” as they’re sitting top right now. But that conveniently overlooks the fact that Harrogate Town could still hunt them down. They still have to play each other overall, so it’s not as if the four-point lead is watertight.
You can argue that Dave Bridges’ red card in the 2010 FA Trophy Final was harsh too.
The final verdict?
For Boro’, our chances of staying in the EFL are clearly better off by ending the 2019-20 League Two season here and now. We must stress, however, that’s not the club’s official line; just our observation. It’s a view supported by BBC Radio 5 Live reporter Ian Dennis on Twitter:
As it stands, EFL position unchanged and say their priority is to complete the season. However, if the EFL do NOT finish their season then they are likely NOT to relegate Stevenage and only accept 1 club from the National League. #stevenage
— Ian Dennis (@Iandennisbbc) April 24, 2020
In England’s top four divisions, there is a hesitance to end things and a hope that it’ll all finish as planned. Well, a bit late and in very weird circumstances. But as planned in the sense that all the fixtures will be boxed off. Is that running uphill against the reality of the situation, though? After canning the rest of this season’s Eredivisie, the president of the Dutch FA thinks it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see an end to our own league campaigns.
Not that we want to sympathise with football administrators, but they’re now damned if they do and damned if they don’t with whatever plan you come up with. Can the smaller clubs be realistically asked to risk the health of staff and players with no gate revenue – just so no-one has to dot the record books with asterisks. Equally, is it fair for runaway leaders to be denied promotion based on where they are fourth-fifths into the season?
We don’t know. Nobody knows. And, so, we won’t know what league we’ll be in for the 2020-1 season; a season that’ll get underway, well, as above. Nobody knows. But we reckon some lawyers are already limbering up for a tasty case load when a call is made.