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Clubs can’t end season because they feel like it - CEO says League One ‘must be decided on pitch, not in boardroom’

Sunderland CEO Jim Rodwell has slammed clubs who want to finish the League One season early

Sunderland CEO Jim Rodwell has slammed clubs who want to finish the League One season early

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The CEO of one of the clubs teaming with Ipswich Town to call for the League One season to be completed has slammed other teams in the league for “deciding against completing competitions they have entered because they don’t feel like doing so.”

Marcus Evans has written to the EFL to say that he wants to finish the League One season. Picture: ARCHANTMarcus Evans has written to the EFL to say that he wants to finish the League One season. Picture: ARCHANT

Sunderland CEO Jim Rodwell released a strong statement earlier today in which he stressed that league placings should be decided by play on the pitch and “not in a meeting room and most certainly not in a courtroom.”

The Black Cats, along with Ipswich, Oxford United, Portsmouth, Fleetwood and Peterborough, are pushing the case for the League One campaign to be played out, behind closed doors, when it is safe to do so.

Other clubs in the league disagree though, creating a stalemate which is yet to be broken, despite numerous EFL meetings. Notably, top two sides Coventry and Rotherham haven’t called for the season to be completed.

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Relegation-threatened Southend have said they think the season should be declared null and void, while Rochdale chief David Bottomley has stated that the division should follow League Two’s lead and end the season.

Tranmere chairman Mark Palios, meanwhile, whose club are currently third from bottom in League One, said last night he believes the season should end now but does not think points per game should decide which teams are relegated to League Two.

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But Rodwell made it clear where he and Sunderland stand in the ongoing drama.

“From the moment the campaign was suspended in March, the EFL board has stated that any remaining fixtures should be played once it is safe and practical to do so, thus retaining the integrity of the competition,” Rodwell said.

“There was a time when that looked like it would not be possible, but recent developments have ensured that the season can be completed within the initial timeframe set by the EFL.

“Several League One clubs have taken the stance that no further games should be played, and that a currently undetermined formula should be applied to finalise the league table.

“SAFC strongly disagree with this view and remain committed to completing the season the right way.

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“We believe that any league placings should be determined by what happens on the pitch, not in a meeting room and most certainly not in a courtroom.

“As a club, we entered the league to determine the best team over 46 games, not 37. That is the premise with which season cards, player contracts and partnerships are agreed.

“It is unfortunate that supporters are extremely unlikely to be able to attend our remaining fixtures, but the streaming infrastructure in place at all EFL clubs ensures that we are in a position to fulfil any obligations, both moral and contractual, to our stakeholders.

Paul Lambert does not believe the League One season can be finished. Picture: PAGEPIXPaul Lambert does not believe the League One season can be finished. Picture: PAGEPIX

“Like all League One clubs, we therefore have a duty to do so.

“We are committed to streaming our remaining home matches for free to all season card holders and this would be extended should the 2020-21 season start behind closed doors.

He added: “Fulfilling our remaining fixtures will come at considerable cost, but it sets a deeply concerning precedent for professional football clubs to decide against completing competitions they have entered because they don’t feel like doing so.

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“Neither fixtures being suspended for public health reasons or matches being played behind closed doors are novel scenarios, but both have happened in the past without clubs opting against fulfilling fixtures and altering competition rules.

“The framework for next season is yet to be determined and all clubs will be in a position to contribute to what is put in place, but this season’s rules and regulations are set in stone and all clubs agreed to them before a ball was kicked.

“We are determined to ensure players, staff and supporters are afforded the opportunity to see the hard work, sacrifice and loyalty of the past nine months rewarded.

“The EFL is a professional league and it now needs to demonstrate the professionalism and obligation that comes with its historic status.”


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