How the Championship could end up beating the divided Premier League to a restart
It’s a huge difference in attitude from the Premier League, that could yet lead to a significant difference in a restart date.
In one of the EFL discussions about what next, executives from a Championship club under real threat of relegation to League One were fully behind the current plans to play in whatever conditions, and used the following phrase. “If we go down, it will at least be under our own steam.”
There is of course a huge difference in the financial consequences of getting relegated from the Championship and getting relegated from the Premier League.
There just isn’t the same money, but that’s a huge reason why there haven’t been the same problems, and we haven’t been the same fractiousness. Clubs can better live with it.
It could yet lead to the somewhat embarrassing situation that the Championship starts back up before the Premier League, maybe – in the words of one source – “weeks before”.
They certainly have a clearer roadmap right now, without the same obstacles.
They do have the benefit of being able to talk without the same public pressure, or scrutiny, on every single decision. There isn’t the same moral dimension applied en masse to every step.
Many might quip that’s also because anything below the Premier League doesn’t get the attention it should, but part of the reason they’re here is because “the government suddenly decided the football league also mattered”.
It was as if the gravity of the situation dawned, and that we could well see scores of social institutions go out of business.
There has been a greater push to get it going, or at least offer resolutions.
That doesn’t mean there’s been complete clarity or consensus, especially in League One.
There is a deeper realisation of the reality of the situation, though, not least given the long-term concerns over the broken financial model in place at so many EFL clubs.
Chairman Rick Parry and other influential figures do think one consequence of this could be a necessary economic “restructuring” of the three divisions.
It is why they have fully backed proposals for divisional wage caps, where any club can only spend a certain amount – £1.25m in League Two – on salaries per year. Existing contracts are to be viewed as a fixed proportion of the figure, so they are honoured but the cap is not breached. Players under the age of 21 will be exempt from that so as to encourage youth promotion. It is telling, similarly, that Championship clubs mostly back such plans for their own division.
Finance has of course dictated the discussion of what to do with this season, since a lot of it will come down to who can afford the testing necessary to get back playing. At a rough cost of around £20,000 a week, that rules out most of the clubs in the bottom two divisions.
That has made a lot of the discussions very smooth.
League Two has been described as “easy to deal with”, although that has probably been helped by the possibility there will be no relegation.
The Football Association may change that, however, as they are unlikely to ratify that decision. The belief is that keeping Stevenage in League Two with no relegation could have a lot of knock-on consequences, especially given all the controversy in the Premier League. Big clubs under threat of going down could point to that as precedent for why they shouldn’t fall into the Championship. An alternative solution is that three are promoted from the National League to offer more fixtures, that would offer a needed upturn in income next season.
The League Two table is nevertheless likely to be settled by non-weighted points-per-game, with Coventry City going up as champions, and some form of play-offs.
The division they will get promoted to, however, is where the main EFL problems lie. Numerous sources claim they are very far away from any kind of consensus or compromise, and that’s essentially because the 24 clubs are split.
Many are “Championship-sized” and see themselves along those lines. Most of the rest are effectively League Two clubs.
Some can afford to play on. Others can’t.
It makes agreement impossible and is why the EFL’s staged voting for the next meeting is going to be essential.
The plan is to propose a number of solutions, and they will just be voted on until they get to the 50% majority, with one option dropping out every round.
Curtailment is seen as the likeliest outcome, albeit with some form of play-offs.
That’s not the case with the Championship. There is full confidence they’ll be back, probably for 12 June.
The vast majority of the clubs are in agreement, as are the players.
It makes a change from the glossy big division above.
This news item was provided by the The Independent - Premier League website - the original link is: https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/championship-restart-date-when-league-one-two-coronavirus-a9525901.html