Manager Paul Lambert thinks that this waiting game, on how our season ends has been going on too long. He has a hunch on what happens next, but is he right? Speaking to Sky Sports News he said with some frustration in his voice, “I think they’ll go points per game, that’s my gut feeling. I hope I’m wrong, I’d love to play the season out but I don’t know the cut-off point and how late it’s going to carry on. I’m not an advocate of the points per game thing at all, I don’t think that’s a good way but if it happens like that you have to accept it.”
This uncertainty surrounding the future of League One is hugely damaging to all the clubs in this division, and in some cases it is life-threatening. As I have said before in this column, I see a lot of the smaller clubs with very limited budgets going to the wall, and it may mean that the two leagues amalgamate if enough of them, from the lower leagues of English football, go bankrupt.
Before a ball was kicked this season, famous old clubs like Bury Town and Bolton Wanderers were on the brink of extinction and in Bury’s case beyond redemption. I would be very surprised indeed if several other clubs do not find themselves in a similar position. No revenue from gate receipts is devastating when you are trying to keep the tax wolves from your door. Championship clubs are not immune and those that have spent beyond their means may also struggle, in the short term at least. Lambert addressed this dilemma too. “And the smaller clubs, how will they manage it? It’s going to be so difficult. I think there are a lot more questions to be answered.”
Lambert is philosophical about the future of football at this level. “I totally get teams looking at their own thing, I totally get it. That’s why I think whatever decision they make, just make it and if it’s good or bad for you, you have to accept it because everybody across the board is the same.
Town players are getting frustrated too with all this inactivity and are constantly asking the gaffer when football can commence? And he said on the subject this; “We’ve tried to keep that going, with the first-team lads because they’re young as well and they’ve been getting itchy feet. ‘When we start back? When do we not start back? I thought it was important to go right through to the U13s because I watch them train at night as well, you take an interest in them to see how they’re doing, how they’re progressing and it was good because it gave me a name to a face really. And when I see them at Playford Road I know exactly who they are.”
As Richard and others have alluded in the comments section below, it is the EFL’s indecision that is the most frustrating aspect of this for the owners, management, players and supporters alike, and the longer it goes on the more unacceptable it becomes.
Lambert again, “Football is one organisation, we’re all the same game. Why is League One the league that’s cut adrift at the minute? It doesn’t add up. The problem is that we need leadership from the top to say ‘ This is what’s going to happen’. I don’t think you’re going to keep everybody happy but I think everybody would accept it if there’s a decision made. If that happens everybody can move on, whether you have to prepare for next season or whether you have to play the games. But there’s got to be an answer somewhere.”
The Ipswich Town boss ended by saying, “I know they’re saying June 8th but would it surprise me if it goes longer? I’m not sure. But there’s got to be a cut-off point, that’s the thing that frustrates me.” And so say all of us!