Several League One clubs are in uproar at their rivals training and being tested for Covid-19 before the critical vote on Tuesday to decide how to complete the interrupted season. It is understood the four teams set to be awarded play-off places if a majority of clubs vote to support the English Football League board’s proposal to curtail the campaign via an unweighted points-per-game model – Oxford, Portsmouth, Fleetwood and Wycombe – are those who have trained and been tested.
The EFL confirmed on Sunday that 135 players and staff from four clubs were tested from last Wednesday to Saturday, with zero individuals returning positive results. Peterborough, who would miss out on the play-offs under the EFL’s proposed framework, and Tranmere, who stand to be relegated if the points-per-game system receives a majority vote , are furious that a handful of teams have resumed activities before the standings have been rubber stamped and accused the EFL of a lack of transparency.
Tranmere’s vice-chairman, Nicola Palios, wrote on Twitter: “How can clubs have a fair vote on Tuesday re our proposals when the EFL have only done Covid testing for clubs who would be in the playoffs under their proposal and not ours? And have struck the deal for TV assuming theirs will go through? This is NOT a fair process.”
Peterborough’s owner, Darragh MacAnthony, meanwhile, said the club, who occupied a play-off place when the season was halted in March, did not receive an approach to restart training.
In response, the EFL pointed out that, in principle, all clubs were permitted to return to “stage one” training, subject to strict medical protocols, including regular twice-weekly testing. Clubs that have returned are also required to appoint a Covid-19 officer to ensure safety protocols are followed. Championship clubs are on “stage two” of training but League One clubs are not expected to transition to contact training until next week at the earliest.
All 71 clubs have been invited to attend the virtual meeting on Tuesday but many have already voted via proxy. Clubs will be able to vote on proposals put forward by the EFL board, Barnsley and Tranmere, who have called for a “margin for error” clause, as well as on amendments raised by Lincoln, Ipswich and Stevenage. Once a framework is agreed, divisions will vote on whether to continue or curtail the season. Coventry and Rotherham would be promoted via the framework, which is expected to gain a majority vote.
Elsewhere, a west London derby between Fulham and Brentford at Craven Cottage will restart the Championship season behind closed doors on 20 June. The lunchtime kick-off will be televised by Sky Sports before the title contending West Brom entertain Birmingham, whose manager, Pep Clotet, announced on Monday that he will step down at the end of the season.
The outcome of League Two is also set to become clearer on Tuesday before the EFL board convenes for its weekly meeting on Wednesday. League Two clubs have indicated a wish to end the season at its current point and made it clear they opposed relegating the division’s bottom club.
Stevenage, who are bottom, have proposed an amendment to ensure there is no relegation from the division. Exeter, Cheltenham, Colchester and Northampton – the four teams set to contest the play-offs – returned to training last week.