How we could see a bumper play-off campaign in League One which would include Doncaster Rovers

Doncaster Rovers would still have a chance to win promotion to the Championship if a radical plan from Peterborough United chairman Darragh MacAnthony was adopted to decide the 2019/20 season.

Saturday, 16th May 2020, 11:08 am
Updated Saturday, 16th May 2020, 11:09 am

MacAnthony spearheaded a group of League One clubs that mounted late opposition to the remainder of the campaign being cancelled and potentially decided by mathematical calculations such as points per game.

Outspoken MacAnthony has offered up the suggestion, should the regular season not be finished on the pitch, of an extended play-off campaign designed to give those who still harbour realistic aspirations of a top six finish a shot at promotion, as well as delivering a compromise to end deadlock over whether or not to complete the remaining fixtures.

That would include a place for Rovers, who would finish ninth in the table under any of the suggested methods of determining the standings.

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Rotherham United would be promoted automatically to the Championship as they sit in second place.

Rovers - who have kept their cards close to their chest on how they believe the season should progress - currently sit five points off sixth placed Peterborough with a game in hand.

Under points per game calculations, Peterborough would drop out of the top six while Sunderland would also miss out. The four traditional play-off places would be occupied by Wycombe Wanderers, Oxford United, Portsmouth and Fleetwood Town.

Under MacAnthony’s suggestion, those four would be joined at least four other clubs - Peterborough, Sunderland, Rovers and Gillingham, plus possibly Ipswich Town and Burton Albion.

Of those teams, Oxford, Fleetwood, Portsmouth, Sunderland, Ipswich and Peterborough formed the united opposition to the early ending of the season.

Speaking to talkSPORT, MacAnthony said: “There was an openness at the meeting which was good and I get the reasoning for clubs who don’t want to play, but the right thing to do is to play on whenever that’s possible.

“They might even use points per game to decide final placings which means we would be screwed out of the play-offs as well. It’s deflating, but I am still fighting and there will be more meetings and discussions taking place.

“We have lost three of our last 10 games, we have nine matches left and five are at home. “We really fancy it with the games we have left. How can it be right that the chance of promotion is just taken away from us?

“There are so many relevant factors that are ignored by using PPG. Wycombe would move above us under PPG, but their game in hand is at Coventry who have lost three times all season. Who decides they would win that game?

“It’s just wrong on so many fronts. I even suggested if we had play-offs we should go for broke and have an 8-10 team tournament with matches live on Sky to determine who joins the top two in the Championship.”

The 23 clubs had been expected to agree to end the season in a meeting on Friday but the opposition to that - which went public on Thursday evening - ensured no united decision was reached, with another conference call scheduled for Monday.

At Friday’s meeting the clubs were told the EFL board still wish to see promotion, relegation and the play-offs take place across all three of their divisions. Though the board hope to see the season completed on the pitch, if it cannot be they would prefer to see final standings determined by an unweighted points per game system.

Such hopes would need to be agreed on by the clubs in order for them to happen.

MacAnthony’s latest suggestion is likely to be discussed among other potential outcomes when the clubs meet again on Monday, with the hope that a decision will be made on the fate of the season.

League Two clubs voted unanimously on Friday to end their season now. How places plus potential promotion and relegation will be decided will be agreed upon at a later date.

Earlier in the week, Championship clubs declared their intention to complete the remainder of the fixtures on the pitch.


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