League One: Six clubs 'collective in goal' to complete season

Peterborough v Oxford
Peterborough United and Oxford United both occupied play-off places when the EFL season was halted in March

Six clubs are determined to finish the League One season by completing their remaining fixtures, says Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony.

MacAnthony released a statement on behalf of Posh, Oxford, Sunderland, Fleetwood, Portsmouth and Ipswich.

League One clubs are due to meet with the EFL board on Friday to discuss options for completing the season.

Elite football in England has been suspended since mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Peterborough are currently sixth with nine games to play and are three points off the automatic promotion places.

MacAnthony posted on social media on behalf of the six clubs, who range from Oxford in third place to 10th-placed Ipswich, to announce their stance.

"We have no desire for voiding the season, points-per-game scenarios or letting a computer decide our footballing fate," he said on Twitter.

"For our fans/staff and for the integrity of our sport, we are all looking forward to completing our pending fixtures/season under guidance from the EFL at a time it is deemed safe to do so."

Also posting on Twitter, Fleetwood chairman Andy Pilley said: "We are backing the completion of League One fixtures.

"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.

"Germany, Premier League, Championship and many more are completing and so should we."

Andy Holt tweets laughing emojis
Accrington Stanley chairman Andy Holt does not want the season to continue

Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin said it was clear there was frustration among some clubs that a decision to abandon the season had already been made from the way how some of the negotiations so far had been reported.

"I don't know where that's been coming from," he told BBC Radio Solent.

"It's a case of putting the record straight. We're committed to doing all that we can to try and finish this season.

"I'm not saying that that will happen - there are obviously a lot of other things still to consider - but that's what we are focused on trying to achieve."

Oxford United echoed Portsmouth's thoughts, with managing director Niall McWilliams emphasising the club "want to play".

"Obviously that's not going to be easy and I don't envy the EFL trying to find a way to make it happen," McWilliams told the club's website.

"As a club we would love to finish the job that we started all those months ago and try to win promotion on the pitch.

"We spoke to a number of clubs this week just to try and gauge opinion. Our message to them, and to the fans remains the same: if a safe way can be found for football to return then we will be ready."

Ipswich, who have lost their past four League One games to slip out of contention for an immediate return to the Championship, said their owner Marcus Evans had written to the EFL to reiterate the club's desire to finish the season.

Sunderland are just outside the play-off places on goal difference. Chief executive Jim Rodwell said: "We owe it to our supporters, players and the game to ensure our remaining fixtures are fulfilled.

"League tables are decided by what happens on the pitch, not in a meeting room."

Coventry City currently lead the division by five points from second-placed Rotherham United. The Sky Blues have 10 games to play this season.

Analysis

Andrew Moon - BBC Radio Solent's Portsmouth commentator

The difference in size of clubs across League One is vast so it's no surprise there are differing views.

On the pitch Portsmouth are pushing for promotion so for sporting reasons obviously want to continue playing but off the field there are reasons too: having to refund 14,500 season ticket holders for missed games would be a huge expense. At least if matches could continue behind closed doors those fans could be offered free streams and possible discounts for next season.

What makes sense financially for smaller clubs may not work for others. The battle lines are being drawn.

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