WHILE the Championship and League Two have come up with preferred ways to finish the season, reaching an agreement in League One is proving a challenge.

The cost of coronavirus testing for second-tier clubs is not much of an obstacle, so they want to play the remaining games if at all possible.

Finances will have dictated most in League Two’s decision to curtail the season, helped by the relatively clean lines separating teams in the top three and play-off places.

League One is caught between the two financially, while the one point gap between third and eighth – along with a game in hand for Wycombe Wanderers – muddies the water.

Also read: Oxford United await fate on League One outcome

The writers covering the third tier have looked into the situation to show where clubs sit heading into another round of talks.

The fact nine different outcomes have been put forward shows the complexity of the situation and the variety of agendas at play.

Those wanting to play on form the largest single bloc.

Oxford United were included in a six-team alliance announced by Peterborough United chairman Darragh MacAnthony on the eve of Friday’s meeting.

They all have an interest in carrying on, especially the likes of Sunderland and Ipswich who cannot get into the top six by any other route.

Gillingham, Bristol Rovers and Lincoln City have all indicated an interest to play on.

At the other end of the scale, there are no surprises top-two Coventry City and Rotherham United would happily halt proceedings now.

They would be promoted automatically in all those scenarios, except in the unlikely event the campaign was written off as null and void.

The latter, nuclear, option is a viewpoint held only by Southend United, who may have noticed it would get them out of a certain relegation.

Four clubs appear to favour a formula.

Wycombe Wanderers would finish third – and be promoted if play-offs could not be held – under a straightforward points per game format.

With little to play for Burton Albion, Shrewsbury Town and Rochdale would take one of the two measures.

That leaves half a dozen clubs, ranging from Doncaster Rovers in ninth to rock bottom Bolton Wanderers, who are either yet to show their hand or are happy to go with the EFL’s decision.

Banbury Cake:

OPTION A - NULL AND VOID

  • SOUTHEND UNITED: Chairman Ron Martin has said: “I agree this season should be announced void.

“The English Football Leagues are predicated on that famous, in my opinion overused phrase 'the integrity of the competition must be maintained'.

“With nine or ten games to go the 'integrity' is impaired, in fact damaged beyond repair.

“The competition we started last August is no longer recognisable.

“If we are unable to finish the season is allocating an average points per game fair? Of course not.

“This is a football competition, potentially with many twists and turns, not a pub quiz. Peoples’ livelihoods are at stake.”

OPTIONS C/D - POINTS PER GAME

  • COVENTRY CITY: Every option besides null and void would see Coventry promoted, so as you can imagine the fanbase feels as if it is only a matter of time until we’re back in the Championship.

The club have no strong objections to playing on, but CEO Dave Boddy has pointed to points per game (weighted or unweighted) as sensible options.

  • ROTHERHAM UNITED: Chairman Tony Stewart pointed the finger at the ‘Magic Six’ as he revealed a split between clubs had prevented a vote to end the campaign early.

Banbury Cake:

Rotherham boss Paul Warne   Picture: David Fleming

He said: “I believe there are two options now – one is to fulfil the fixtures totally and the other is the top two will go up, three go down and the next four from the top will be in the play-offs.”

  • WYCOMBE WANDERERS: The points per game format would put them third and be promoted (if play-offs are impossible).

But speaking on the I Had Trials Once podcast, manager Gareth Ainsworth accepted the EFL would ideally want some sort of competitive conclusion.

He said: “The only fair way is to finish everything as it should be but can they possibly do it?”

“The more weeks this goes on, the less time were going have to cram all these games in.

“And playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday-Tuesday is going kill teams.

“It’ll kill my squad.”

  • BURTON ALBION: No club sits more squarely in the middle of the current table than Burton, so they would most likely want to move on with the minimum possible financial damage.
  • SHREWSBURY TOWN: Chief executive Brian Caldwell told the Shropshire Star he does not feel it is morally right to risk the health of the club’s staff – whether players or otherwise – while the country is still struggling to deal with the impact of Covid-19.

Banbury Cake:

Shrewsbury Town's most recent game was the 3-2 defeat to Oxford United  Picture: James Williamson

The Town chief also said it does not make financial sense for Salop to play their remaining 10 games – with those matches set to cost the club in the region of £500,000.

  • ACCRINGTON STANLEY: Owner Andy Holt has been vocal on Twitter about the costs in continuing – and suffice it to say he does not want his club playing again in 2019/20 unless it was completely safe to do so.

He recently suggested: “I’d support promotion with no relegation.

“I would relegate one extra club a year until the number of clubs is back down to 24.

“The EFL clubs can fit more games in and it would mean more short-term match day revenue as football returns. Those in playoffs, playoff. Single legs.”

  • ROCHDALE: CEO David Bottomley says integrity of the competition will “go out the window” if the season is continued, largely because players’ contracts expire at the end of June – and there is a maximum of one month they will be available after that date.

With time ticking, he claims it is impossible to prepare squads in time for the season to be completed in time.

OPTION E - UNDECIDED/WILL GO WITH EFL ADVICE

  • DONCASTER ROVERS: Though they still have a chance of the top six, they are unlikely to protest too much should any of the potential options be decided.

Banbury Cake:

Manager Darren Moore (pictured) however strongly believes if the season is cancelled then it should be declared null and void because it is the most fair option.

  • BLACKPOOL: The Tangerines are waiting on clarity from the EFL or government before making any official comment.

But, given their league position they’re unlikely to cause too much of a fuss.

  • MK DONS: Being involved in the promotion/relegation debate is something Pete Winkelman has admitted he was steering clear of. If afforded the option, Dons would leave their vote until last and go with the most popular option.
  • AFC WIMBLEDON: They have on the whole kept out of the public discussions, with Dons manager Glyn Hodges claiming last month that if the remaining nine fixtures were to go ahead that his side would be ready.

If the season was to be concluded early however, the club would be safe in either PPG table, so they are likely to abide by whatever the EFL recommends.

Although, the magnitude of such a decision wouldn’t be overlooked by anyone from a Dons perspective - a similar scenario last year would have almost certainly deprived them of their amazing escape from relegation.

  • TRANMERE ROVERS: Chairman Mark Palios (pictured) believes there is “some way to go” before an agreement is reached.

Banbury Cake:

Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire

It is most likely going to need a change in the league’s regulations, which would require a vote across all three EFL divisions.

He said: “One of the things that I am keen on is that we get a sensible set of options that people can choose and really understand what those options mean.

“There are a variety of options and Tranmere Rovers will put forward the best case of what the options should be, and how they will be voted on.”

  • BOLTON WANDERERS: They have kept out of the promotion and relegation debate, partly because only a null and void option would give them any hope of avoiding League Two football next season.

Given all the strife of the last 12 months, they cannot have any arguments.

OPTION G - FINISH THE SEASON

  • PORTSMOUTH: No points per game variables would put Pompey in promotion positions – some would leave them out of the play-offs.

As a consequence, Pompey want to get back onto the pitch, either by completing the season or some sort of play-off format.

Failing that, they would vote for declaring the league null and void.

  • FLEETWOOD TOWN: A statement from owner Andy Pilley tweeted: “Sporting integrity is of paramount importance, we cannot accept points per game or any other conclusion without giving it our best shot in a safe environment.

“Germans, Prem, Championship and many more are completing and so should we.”

  • OXFORD UNITED: Boss Karl Robinson has been clear throughout – they want to play on if it was safe.

Having won five straight games before lockdown, they feel a top-two spot is a real possibility and playing on would be the fairest outcome.

There is also the potential they would miss out to Wycombe if a straight points per game method was used and there were no play-offs.

  • PETERBOROUGH UNITED: No chairman has been more vocal than Darragh MacAnthony in his belief the 2019-20 season has to be finished when it’s safe to do so to preserve the integrity of the competition, who is even prepared to start legal action if things don’t go his way.

Banbury Cake:

Peterborough United Chairman Darragh MacAnthony   Picture: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Posh, who have apparently had the biggest playing budget in the club’s history this season, have a lot to lose if the season is declared null and void.

Straight PPG even knocks them out of the play-offs.

  • SUNDERLAND: The Black Cats have been clear the League One table should be completed ‘on the pitch, not in a meeting room’.

Having slipped outside the play-off places just before the suspension of football, the only way Sunderland stand a chance of promotion is if the season restarts.

  • IPSWICH TOWN: Ipswich Town owner Marcus Evans has written to EFL chairman Rick Parry, saying: “The focus should be on how we finish the season and not how do we end the season on an incomplete basis.”
  • GILLINGHAM: Both manager and chairman recently suggested putting the season into hibernation for several months and restarting it some time later in the year.

If that’s not possible, then it’s option A, null and void.

  • BRISTOL ROVERS: Although the Gas have nothing to play for, Bristol Live understands there is a consensus in the club of wanting to fulfil their nine fixtures.
  • LINCOLN CITY: CEO Liam Scully has stressed the Imps will do all they can to overcome the hurdles and ensure the campaign is played to a conclusion.