League One: Clubs resume talks over whether to continue or end season

Fratton Park, Portsmouth
Portsmouth believe the difference in size between League One clubs is making it harder to reach a decision

League One clubs are discussing the future of the season amid a split over whether to continue the campaign.

Matches have been suspended since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

League Two clubs have voted to end their season with no relegation, to use average points per game to decide promotion and to stage play-offs.

Meanwhile, the Premier League and Championship are hoping to resume next month, leaving the third tier in limbo as to what happens next.

Six League One clubs, including Sunderland, Portsmouth and Ipswich, have said they want to continue the season.

"We think it's the right thing to do," Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"The Premier League are currently trying to do it, the Championship are starting next week with regards to commencing training, and we think that we've got a moral obligation to our supporters, stakeholders, sponsors, a whole array of people.

"We should be making every attempt possible to try and finish the season on the pitch."

Black Cats chief executive Jim Rodwell reiterated the club's view that all fixtures should be completed.

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

"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."

Tranmere's Andy Cook
Tranmere were 21st in League One, three points from safety with a game in hand, when the season was halted because of the coronavirus pandemic

If, however, clubs vote to end the season, Tranmere Rovers chairman Mark Palios, whose club are in the bottom three along with Southend and Bolton, feels they should follow League Two's lead and have no relegation.

"If the decision is made that we will not play the season out then I think it's quite clear that the season should be voided, rather than deciding on what is a mid-season change of rules and a fairly arbitrary decision as regards how we deal with promotion and relegation," he told the club website.

"In order to find an acceptable compromise, it has to be just: a compromise that is fair.

"Our suggested solution follows on from what League Two voted in favour of last week and while that's not a binding vote, it's indicative of where their intentions were and that is promotions, without relegation."

Gap between big and small

Catlin believes the debate in League One stems from the differences in size between clubs in the third tier.

At one end, there are clubs like Sunderland and Portsmouth, who are former Premier League sides, while others such as Tranmere and AFC Wimbledon have played in non-league football in the past decade.

"I liken it to an elastic band, where the Championship is on one side and League Two's on the other," said Catlin.

"Somewhere in the middle is League One where you've got a split of larger clubs in regards to supporter bases, your Portsmouth's, Sunderland, Ipswich, Peterborough, your larger clubs at that end.

"Then at the other end of the table you've got a lot of smaller clubs, and the lower half of League One seem to be aligning themselves with the League Two position and the non-league position, while the Championship and the Premier League, the larger clubs are aligning themselves with that position."

He added: "That just happens because of the size of the club, there's no right or wrong in it, and how do we get to a solution? We've all been looking at that now for weeks and weeks and weeks.

"I've been on every call, there's no animosity or anger towards each other, but there are differences of opinion, but we have to respect each other's differences of opinion."