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The League Two season is set to be cancelled after clubs in the division “unanimously indicated” they wished to bring the campaign to an early conclusion.
For some teams, Friday’s decision took them to the brink of promotion – pending ratification from the English Football League and Football Association – but for others it was simply about doing “what was best for football as a whole”.
As each side in the fourth tier attempts to process the news and understand what it might mean for them, BBC Sport charts how all 24 sides have reacted.
Last updated: 13:00 BST on Monday, 18 May
Bradford City (9th)
The Bantams were four points off the play-off places when the season was suspended on 13 March.
“Essentially, it (continuing the season) became a question of ‘was it the right thing to do?’ Spending more money, using vital testing. From a moral perspective, we were quite uncomfortable with that in addition to the financial implications it would have,” director of communications Ryan Sparks told BBC Look North.
“We sit ninth and have nine games left to play which could get us into the play-offs, but the cost of attempting to do that could put us in a serious financial position in addition to the other teams in the division.
“Ultimately, you have to be realistic about the integrity and future of the competition.”
Cambridge United (16th)
The decision is the “best outcome in a bad situation”, according to Cambridge United chief executive Ian Mather.
He told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Sport: “We are happy with it. If you look at the cost of completing our five home games and four away games it was somewhere in the region of £200,000.
“The testing costs was estimated to be about £140,000. We would have had to take players off furlough and other staff off furlough and we would have had travel costs for away games, so £200,000 to make no difference to our league status for next season just doesn’t stack up.
“There was a strong sense of being together to try to find a solution that was fair. To get 24 clubs all agreeing is quite something. That is a positive to take away from it. It was the football community working collaboratively.”
Carlisle United (18th)
Chief executive Nigel Clibbens said clubs in the division were “totally united” during Friday’s meeting, something he described as “very unusual”.
“We are pleased to see a major step forward has been taken,” he said in a club statement. “The safety issues in completing the season came into sharp focus, with the guidance on returning to training issued earlier this week.
“Our ability to provide the safe environment required would have been hugely challenging practically, even without considering the costs.”
Cheltenham Town (5th, play-offs)
Cheltenham Town captain Ben Tozer, whose side would move up to fourth in the table using the unweighted points-per-game method proposed, told BBC Radio Gloucestershire his side were “the most in-form team in the league” when the season was suspended.
“[Money] will be the sole reason for having the play-offs, I guess,” he said. “If you’re having play-offs, why not just finish the whole season?
“If you’d have said at the start of the season that we’d be in the play-offs come the end of the season, we’d have snapped your hand off. But then also, when football stopped, if you’d have said play-offs we’d have sniffed at it because we were the most in-form team in the league. We were only looking one way and that was up, to win the league.”
Tozer’s wife is expecting a baby in June and he admits to having concerns for his family’s health.
“It’s easy for people to say we should be back because of financial reasons and blah, blah, blah, but there are lives on the line,” he said.
“It’s a tough decision. There are a lot of emotions going around in my head. It’s not just myself. Our striker Reuben Reid’s wife is currently in remission from cancer. She has been told by the NHS to shield. What do you say to Reuben, if he has to come back and play and then potentially infect his wife and kids?”
Colchester United (6th, play-offs)
Colchester had lost three of their four previous games and were eighth in the table before facing Carlisle United on 7 March, their last fixture before the season was to be suspended.
But a 3-0 victory in that game lifted them back into the top seven and means they now look set for a play-off campaign.
“For the first time I’ve ever known and for something as complicated, all 24 clubs were in agreement,” chairman Robbie Cowling told BBC Essex.
“It’s amazing for clubs like Bradford and Port Vale, who’ve been up there all season, to be in agreement. It was very magnanimous of them.
“As it turns out our 3-0 win at Carlisle, our last game we played, has proved pivotal.”
Crawley Town (12th)
Crawley Technical director Erdem Konyar told BBC Radio Sussex: “It’s the best viable financial option to end the season now.
“At present you’ve got a financial hole that you find yourself in, but there’ll also be a bigger hole in the future. Hopefully we can succeed in getting through the next year and a half.
“On paper we did have easier games ahead so we would’ve finished in the top 10, but that’s secondary now.”
Crewe Alexandra (1st, automatic promotion)
Crewe, who would drop down to second by using the points-per-game system but crucially still earn promotion, have yet to comment.
But manager David Artell said before the meeting that “we want clubs to survive and for the football pyramid to stay intact”.
Exeter City (4th, play-offs)
Fourth-placed Exeter were three points off Plymouth Argyle in third when the season was curtailed – but still had to face their Devon rivals in the run-in.
Chairman Julian Tagg said the decision was “tough to take” as they were still “well in the hunt” for promotion.
“While the club’s first choice would have been to have completed the season as per normal, the costs for doing so – not only from Exeter City’s point of view, but perhaps more so for the rest of the clubs in the league – was a big ask,” he said.
“It was way above the means of a huge number of clubs in the league, so the chances of getting unanimous support for such a proposal was extremely slim, and therefore there was a need to accept what was best for football as a whole.”
Forest Green Rovers (11th)
Forest Green Rovers owner Dale Vince disputed the notion that there was a “unanimous” feeling to end the regular season, saying deciding on promotion and relegation in an incomplete campaign would cause “lots of inequity”.
“How do you call the season now? It’s a bit like pass the parcel – the music has stopped,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Do we just call it according to where we all are in the league? Automatically promote the top three, relegate the bottom clubs and have a play-off, or not have a play-off?
“We think for the integrity of the competition, for the promotion and relegation battles, it’s [completing the season] the only proper way to do it.”
Grimsby Town (13th)
Grimsby chairman Philip Day said: “Prior to the meeting, I had obtained the views of my fellow directors and we were unanimous in agreeing that the season should end. Our paramount concern was the health and welfare of our staff and players.
“The EFL had produced guidelines for return to training which included onerous obligations on clubs.
“Amongst the obligations was a requirement to have players and ground staff tested at least twice a week with the club doctor present. The cost of tests alone was estimated to be £140,000. Our club doctor works in the NHS and our view was that it was unreasonable to take him from his duties there.
“As soon as the players came back, we would have to have taken them and other staff off furlough at a cost of approximately £200,000. There were other requirements which we and most League Two clubs could not comply with.
“The total cost of all the requirements and loss of furlough would have been in excess of £400,000 at a time when we had no income.”
Leyton Orient (17th)
Orient have not responded to the news, but on 11 May – four days before the meeting – captain Jobi McAnuff told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I just don’t feel that safety can be guaranteed in the current climate that we’re in.”
Former Jamaica midfielder McAnuff also said he was concerned about the “disproportionate” number of deaths among people from ethnic minority backgrounds in the UK.
Macclesfield Town (23rd)
Macclesfield, who were given a seven-point deduction for failing to play December’s match against Plymouth and for non-payment of player wages on 7 May, have not commented.
They were three points above bottom side Stevenage when the season was suspended having played a game more, but clubs have proposed that relegation is scrapped in 2019-20.
Mansfield Town (21st)
Mansfield have yet to comment.
Morecambe co-chairman Rod Taylor applauded the unity shown by League Two clubs in a decision that he said had to be taken.
“Whatever happens we should not be rising lives,” told BBC Lancashire Sport. “I feel it is the right thing to do and have been saying that for a number of weeks.
“We all love football and want to see football matches and I think it would be a tremendous boost to every sports fan in the country, but surely we should not be risking lives.
“Port Vale voted for this even though they are one point outside the play-off places and that shows a lot of bravery and sense and is doing it for the greater good.”
Newport County (15th)
“As a supporter-owned, community-based football club, our primary concern throughout this process has been the health and wellbeing of our players, staff and supporters, and the economic impact this pandemic is having on some of them and many others in Newport,” they said in a statement.
“Should this indicative decision be formalised, Newport County realises this will be disappointing for many of our supporters. Many will have questions regarding the next steps for the club and football in general.
“As soon as a formal decision is made, the club will issue a fuller statement.”
Northampton Town (7th, play-offs)
Cobblers chairman Kelvin Thomas, whose side are set for a play-off place having finished just one point above Port Vale in eighth, said they “can now start to see the road ahead”.
“We know the EFL has a lot of work to do, so we will patiently await the outcome of that work, but as a club we will continue to plan for all eventualities,” he said.
“The club’s response to this crisis has been magnificent and it has really shown us to be a pillar in the community. Our thoughts remain with those who have been and are currently affected by the virus, but we thank everyone who has supported us during this time and hopefully we can now also start putting the blocks in place for recovery.”
Oldham Athletic (19th)
Oldham have yet to comment.
Plymouth Argyle (3rd, automatic promotion)
Plymouth are set to earn promotion to League One under the proposals, but said in a club statement that Friday’s meeting was “just one important step in the process before any such decision can be finalised”.
“We understand that fans will, rightly, want to celebrate the achievements of Ryan Lowe and his first-team squad,” the statement continued. “We endeavour to be as transparent as possible throughout this process, and will update supporters as and when we have more information to share.
“In the meantime, we will continue to work with the EFL, its member clubs and key stakeholders to reach a solution.”
Port Vale (8th)
Port Vale chair Carol Shanahan said she “came away shaking” after voting to end the season despite the club being one point outside the play-offs.
“It wasn’t an easy thing to do. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Shanahan told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“Then I had to do the awful thing of ringing the manager to tell him.
“Port Vale fans could look at it and ask: ‘Why on earth did Carol vote for this that meant we missed out?’ Well, it was for the greater good. I think it was the right thing to do.”
Shanahan added on Saturday that “the whole of the football industry is in a state of crisis”.
Salford City (10th)
Salford have yet to comment since Friday’s decision.
But owner Gary Neville said on 8 May he thought it was “extremely unlikely” the season would be able to resume in both League One and League Two.
“There [will be] no fans in stadiums, you’d have to pay players appearance money and bonus money – and the clubs haven’t got the money,” he said.
Former Manchester United and England right-back Neville has remained vocal throughout the coronavirus lockdown, with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp joking on Football Focus that he had “an opinion on everything”.
Scunthorpe United (20th)
“We have at least now made a step forward after eight weeks of not a lot happening really, which was frustrating for all of us,” chairman Peter Swann told BBC Radio Humberside.
“It means we can probably get towards the end of the season and financially start planning for next season.
“But without any fans our revenues are depleted by about two-thirds. It’s pretty precarious.
“There’s absolutely no way we’ll be able to start next season without any help from the EFL so really the hard work will start when that final decision is made.”
Stevenage are set to remain bottom using the points-per-game method proposed, but could avoid dropping down to the National League after a request from clubs to scrap relegation.
Owner Phil Wallace told BBC Sport his preference was to finish the season so they could “play our way out of trouble”.
“We have 10 games to play and are three points behind, with a game in hand,” he said. “Why should I think it was not possible to get out of it?
“The League Two clubs cannot decide this. We can only tell the EFL of their indicative position but that is the collective view.
“I don’t know what this would mean for the National League.”
Swindon Town (2nd)
Swindon are set to be promoted and even win the title if points per game is used to determine the final placings.
Speaking to BBC Radio Wiltshire on Monday, chairman Lee Power was not asked directly about Friday’s meeting but did hail the “fantastic achievement” of his team.
“It’s tempered with everything else that’s gone on in the world and the terrible situation that everyone finds themselves in,” he said.
“The lads have done so well and it’s disappointing, more so for the supporters, that we couldn’t have gone out and celebrated that.”
Walsall have declined to comment.