There is as yet no resolution to how promotions, relegations and play-offs should work in the event that the EFL Clubs vote not to complete the season. I appreciate that in the context of a global pandemic, this may seem something of a sordid sideshow, but the fact remains that football clubs employ hundreds of people and touch the lives of many thousands. This situation simply reinforces my view that self-regulation doesn’t work.
Every Club chairman wants to protect the interests of his Club and I am no different to any other in that regard, not least because you, the supporters, deserve it. But most Chairman also want to look after the wider interests of the game if the two are not incompatible, and there is a belief amongst a significant number that playing on, which would give Tranmere a good chance of survival, could place an intolerable financial stress on Clubs which are already struggling. We do not want to force Clubs who cannot afford it, to play, but what club would accept being sacrificed for the benefit of the majority’s financial benefit, when that sacrifice is unnecessary? This is why I have been relentlessly exploring alternative ways of ending the season.
Many people have expressed great sympathy for Tranmere’s situation in particular, in that the EFL’s proposal that the season should end on a pure PPG basis would result in Tranmere being relegated by 0.04 of a point, when there was a very real prospect of the Club staying up in the event that the season could be played to a conclusion. Whilst we appreciate the sentiment, sympathy is no consolation.
I am pleased that the EFL has allowed more time to submit alternative proposals in response to their original request to receive innovative compromise solutions. We submitted such a proposal before the deadline of 2pm yesterday. In the interests of transparency and informed debate, you can read the full submission to the EFL [here].
As a matter of principle, I still believe that there should be no relegation in the event of an unfinished season, but I have accepted that this is unlikely to attract the 90% support that would be required to temporarily expand the size of the EFL. For that reason, our latest compromise proposal accepts that relegation must happen for Clubs who were clearly adrift at the bottom of the table and were unlikely to be able to stay up had the season continued. It also accepts that for Clubs who had established a strong lead at the top of the table, it is fair that they are promoted automatically.
Importantly, the new proposal allows each division to choose whether it wishes to play on and if not whether to conclude the table on a simple PPG basis, or to apply a margin for error. Applying a margin for error benefits clubs which have narrowly missed out on the playoffs, and Clubs which are only marginally in the relegation spots. Under this structure, each division is able to take into account its own dynamics, as there are very different issues in play in each division.
I believe that most “Football People” have a sense that a simple PPG does not provide a fair solution when you stand back and look at the position. Our proposal uses PPG, but then applies a range of likely outcomes based on that raw PPG, to show what the statistically likely outcomes were for each Club. If the result of that shows that a Club would be likely to have made the play-offs, or to avoid relegation, then they are given the benefit of the doubt, so that they can vote to end the season to protect other Clubs financially, without voting to cause harm to themselves. This produces a result that I believe Football People can recognise as fairer. It doesn’t require Clubs to be sacrificed for the greater good of others.
We will know next week whether other Clubs share my view. I will be spending the next week making myself available to answer any questions from Clubs on how and why we have structured the proposal as we have.
At Tranmere, as at other clubs, we always expect our players, manager and fans to “go the full 90” and they have the right to expect the Chairman and the Vice Chair to do the same.
Tranmere Rovers FC.