When it comes to Stevenage, it is fair to say that things have not been dull this season. When you consider that no less than four men have been charge, it has been a period steeped in upheaval. No matter who has taken the reigns during the 2019-20 campaign, no individual has covered themselves in anything resembling glory. And, while we are at the foot of the League 2 table, there is perhaps a reason to be optimistic.
That’s because with the Coronavirus halting action up and down the country, the season is in real danger of not reaching a definitive conclusion. Should that be the case, there is every chance that Stevenage may avoid relegation. While we can still entertain ourselves with other sports, there is no doubt that fans of Alex Revell’s men are yearning for on-pitch activity. Even if results have been incredibly forgettable as of late.
Promotion and Relegation: What to do?
In a season that saw the EFL club lose one of its 72 members, just one side will fall out of League 2 and into the National League; two teams gaining promotion from England’s fifth tier. There is perhaps a twist in the tale, however. That is the fact that the National League have suspended fixtures indefinitely; muddying the water as far as promotion and relegation is concerned.
With Barrow clear at the top of the National League at the time of the hiatus, they have the greatest argument for promotion. With the EFL a team short after Bury’s demise, there could be a much simpler arrangement for the 2020-1 campaign. At present there are 24 teams in the EFL Championship as normal, 23 in League One and 24 in League Two. With no natural route for promotion and relegation, the EFL somehow needs to slot an extra club in before the start of next season.
League Two promotion and relegation
To do this, the current League Two leaders Crewe could be given a berth in League One next season. From there, the last void could be filled in League Two by Barrow – meaning that all leagues are once again occupied with 24 entrants. This admittedly would be a highly controversial method; not least as many will point to Stevenage having such a bad season so far. After losing our last eight matches, we can be seen as worthy relegation candidates.
At the same time, no-one can argue these are certainly unchartered times. Although this idea may put some noses out of joint, you get the feeling that more left-field thinking is required.
Of course, if Crewe are the team to be promoted to League One, that would undoubtedly draw umbrage from the likes of Swindon and Plymouth. The former still have a game in hand over the current leaders of the division. With that in mind, the winners of League Two perhaps should be decided on an average point per game (PPG) method instead. If that was the case, then Swindon could lay claim to promotion.
So what happens?
Ultimately, the EFL need to get to a point where they rebalance all their three league competitions for next season. With that in mind, they won’t be in a rush to accept too many clubs from the level below. This means that Stevenage’s situation looks much more favourable. The longer the Coronavirus delay continues, the greater their chances of playing in League Two once again next season.
Critics will certainly question the integrity of the competition at this current stage. But there’s almost a sense of trying to find the least worst option. If there is no relegation to the National League, there will be few complaints from anyone connected to Stevenage. Fans of the club have had to deal with some of the worst football that they’ve seen in years. While we keep the faith, it is tough at times to keep supporting a side so poor on the pitch.
Now more than ever calls for is when true support, however. When this pandemic finally clears, Stevenage might just have been given the greatest salvation of all. And it is one that sees them continue to trade as an EFL club.