It’s now one month since our 2019-20 League Two campaign was meant to end. Feels like a lifetime ago now, doesn’t it. And still we’re waiting to find out what’s what. Are we staying up? Or set for relegation? In the space of the last fortnight, it’s been both. The discussions go on, the permutations still to be worked through. The answers? The EFL will get back to you. We just don’t know when. And we don’t know where we’re going. Or when. Or why…
“No relegation”, says League Two
A week is a long time in football – even when there is no football. On 15 May, League Two clubs decided to call time on the current season. After all, when is it gonna get played? To test every player? The clubs will no doubt have to fund it themselves. And would that then undermine testing capacity key workers and others in more pressing need?
The unexpected turn of events is that it also came with a vow from most clubs to suspend relegation from the division. Of course, one side gets the most out of that decision.
Let’s call it the “twist”.
“No – relegation”, says the Football League
We told you that a week was a long time in football. In the past few days, the wisest folk in football – the EFL board – all got together on Zoom or Teams or something to work out the draft framework that’ll be put into place if League Two calls it quits. Going against what the 20 League Two clubs decided, the EFL says that relegation from the division will still exist.
The final positions are to be decided on unweighted points per game. And however those figures are fiddled, we’re going to end up bottom. Hardly a shock, given how rubbish Boro’ have been over the course of the season; more gaffers than wins is the line that’s got rival fans so jolly in their moods. On our footballing record to date, you can’t really argue it.
So, folks. We are going down.
And there’s your “turn”.
… but the National League to still do playoffs?
The 2019-20 National League season is over. That’s the bottom line. But still to be sorted are the messy considerations of promotion and relegation. If their final positions are done on points-per-game, Barrow are surely up. If we’re going down, it’ll still need one more up to balance the books. But – who’s that going to be?
Harrogate Town have every right to lay claim; still very much in with a chance of catching Barrow when the season ended. Notts County will probably push hard about being in the race too. But you also have Boreham Wood in the playoff mix too. For them, a chance to get to the Football League is massive. But their chairman thinks that’s that for 2020.
At BoroGuide, we’d love Harrogate Town to come up. For the head of our team, the ‘Gate are only 30 minutes away. Yeah, living up north. Who’d have thunk it. But we hoped that it would mean a local away day for us in 2020-21 – instead of them coming up to replace us. It looks like we’ll have to settle for either Bradford or Halifax.
If the National League goes ahead with the playoffs, we can surely ask this legit question: why do they get the chance to play for promotion if we don’t have an equal chance to play for survival? You can dodge and weave your way around the answer to whatever end you want. But, if “integrity” is to be the zeitgeist of this season, you can’t apply it as you see fit.
Is this where the next “twist” might lie?
And what about Macclesfield Town?
Ah, the Silkmen. Just three points separates us now. In normal times, we have a game in hand and a trip to Moss Rose. So, our fate is in our own hands. Except it’s not – because we aren’t going to be playing those matches. It is, therefore, what it is. Ultimately, we stay below them because we didn’t win enough points – and even after their points deduction.
Two schools of thoughts, here.
One: Our season has been such a disaster that, still being below the Silkmen in the table after they had points lopped off front, back and sides, means we deserve where we are.
Can’t argue with that, right?
Two: We stayed in budget and paid our players on time. The Silkmen recruited players to keep them in the division who they couldn’t afford – and didn’t pay. It ain’t a one-off either.
Not sure how that fits in with the “integrity” of the competition.
Is that the end of the matter at Moss Rose? Who knows? But it’s another curveball thrown into the mix. On the pitch, their results earn them the right to stay in League Two. You can argue that if you wish, but it won’t wash. Off the pitch? Hmm – keep that one between you and your maker. Or put it on Twitter. It’s all shouty-shouty on there these days.
Anyway, there could be another “turn” here too.
Relegation. Promotion. Conclusions?
For us, we’re not sure if we care more about what happens to us or simply getting a final decision. And we could be waiting for a while longer. In League Two, clubs show a broad consensus. In League One, there’s a mighty slanging match going on between a gang of six who want to see out the season and others who do not.
The Championship? Well, the Championship is more fussed about their pathway into the top flight. You can be sure that Leeds and West Brom won’t be fussed about the outcome for us or Tranmere Rovers or Notts County. It seems, though, some Championship teams are ready to restart; others, meanwhile, are less keen. Yet another battleground.
Oh, and the Premier League has (apparently) not ruled out scrapping relegation.
If we do go down, will we go down? The EFL – while keen to keep relegation – did add in its statement that we’d go down “provided [the EFL] have assurances that the National League will start season 2020-1“. That means, if the National League can’t start up again for a new season any time soon, we have nowhere to go. And nowhere we will go.
With the statement from Boreham Wood and other reports suggesting there’ll be no non-league football for some time, it’s one helluva an admin headache. We’re inching towards solutions that’ll piss off as many people as it pleases. The lawyers are no doubt limbering up too. You get a sense this is gonna run – with many more twists and turns still to come.
Still, Bundesliga’s back innit…