Phil Parkinson is still hoping that some League One football with be played at some point in June. L1 clubs have been unable to reach an agreement on how to conclude the season, with more talks scheduled for Monday.
“Early this week, I thought the likelihood of League One playing on was limited,” Parkinson said. “As the week went on, the government guidelines on training came out, and we looked at that and thought it was achievable. We accepted that we’d have to come back to training without a start date. But I felt we could come back in a way that was safe for players and staff. I was on a call yesterday with the LMA and doctors, about testing etc. [After that] I don’t see any reason why the first stage of resuming training [in groups of five] can’t go ahead. League Two obviously voted to end their season, while League One had a meeting with the chief executives and a decision is still to be made. There is a split because everyone is going to vote for what they want for their club. I think the fairest thing is, we would like to play the season to a finish, but another solution could be that teams who don’t want to play, and you can understand why teams in mid-table wouldn’t, don’t play. But teams who are vying for promotion, can we have an extended play-off scenario? League One has been so tight all season. You look at teams like ourselves and Wycombe Wanderers, not only do we think we can get in the play-offs, we think we can get it into the top two. Anything can happen in the last eight to ten games. I think it would be unfair to write promotion off as it stands, and the same in the relegation zone. I think it’s unfair to say to Tranmere that they’re relegated when they have a game-in-hand. If they win that, and it draws quite a few teams back in. I can understand why teams want to play, there is a cost to putting games on and the testing. Equally, I think there’s a solution which could probably suit everyone.
“Coventry City have been on an exceptional run and have got that lead, but it wasn’t that long ago that Wycombe Wanderers had a big lead at the top,” Parkinson added. “We beat Oxford at the Kassam Stadium and at that stage, we were well clear of them. Teams through the season have had dips and gone on runs, and there’s nothing to say it can’t swing around again. The history of football tells us all that in the last eight to ten games, things can change when the tension and pressure kicks in. League One has been very, very tight. There’s little between the teams and it’s probably fair to give everyone a crack at getting up, whether it’s by finishing the regulation season or by some other format. The ideal solution is all games get played, I have to stress that," he said. “But I think there is a solution that could suit everybody. The other thing is, there has been a lot of talk about the out-of-contract players. If the season does get back up and running and the teams with nothing to play for have a lot of players out of contract, are they going to be fielding strong teams? Whereas if it’s a tournament or an extended play-off scenario for the top teams, the players out of contract would you’d imagine want to play. You’d imagine they want to be part of trying to get their team promotion, to showcase themselves as well to earn a contract. The integrity of the competition and the actual games themselves could be served better that way. There is a cost of testing, and there is no date for when we can resume yet, as the government haven’t set the deadlines for when we can extend the training to include contact,” he added. So we don’t how long that will take, and the belief is that it will take 56 days to finish the [full season]. If we did a mini-tournament, then the amount of games to be played would be reduced, and the cost of testing would be less and the timescale would mean that even if we were pushed back, we could still get it in [before July 31st]. That’s got to be part of the decision. One thing I have been thinking about during this period, is that it is ultimately left to the clubs to decide as it stands,” he said. “With scenarios like we have now in League One, where it is contentious, is it best to say, everyone has had their say and opinion, let’s have an independent panel make the final call? There is a case for that, in my view. We will wait and see what is decided on Monday and Tuesday.”