These are manager Paul Lambert’s words, not mine, but I completely agree with him. How long does it take to make a decision, and put us all out of our misery?
Portsmouth believes the difference in size between League One clubs is making the task even harder but the longer this goes on the more absurd it becomes. We know League Two have pulled to plug on the whole affair, and it looks like the Championship and the Premier League are set to continue in some form or another, so why do we remain in a suspended state of animation?
Yesterday, Celtic got their hands on the league title without another ball being kicked so firm decisions are being made everywhere in football, except in our division it seems. In the Netherlands, the campaign was declared null and void some time ago and in Belgium football has been wrapped up with the league leaders, Club Brugge declared champions due to the COVID-19. In Scotland, Celtic have been crowned title winners and wherever you care to look, something appears to be happening – except here in League One, where we to have arrived at an unsavoury impasse.
Paul Lambert is incensed by the lack of direction from the E.F.L. and he told the Daily Mail that he was not a happy chappie. “I think it’s an absolute disgrace what’s happening – with League One especially. It’s terrible. It’s so wrong that they haven’t told us what is going on. Will someone just make a decision? It’s badly lacking leadership.” He makes a good point. Matches have been suspended since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and yet we are no nearer to knowing how this deplorable season will eventually end?
Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin told BBC Radio 5 Live that a decision must be made soon for the sake of football and that the authorities should follow the lead taken by the Championship and Premier League and try to complete the season. ” We think it’s the right thing to do. 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.”
Six League One clubs, including Sunderland, Portsmouth and Ipswich, have said they want to continue the season and more clubs are thinking along the same lines but in equal measure, there are several clubs; who for financial reasons – or because of their infrastructure, want the season to end here and now. At one end, there are clubs like Sunderland and Portsmouth, who were once Premier League big boys, while others; such as Tranmere and AFC Wimbledon have played in non-league football in the past decade so there is a huge gulf in terms of prosperity and ambition. Burton Albion manager Nigel Clough stepped down the other day and saved, an “unbelievable” number of jobs at the club according to new player-manager Jake Buxton.
Pompey’s Mark Catlin is aware of those differences and said, “I liken it to an elastic band, where the Championship is on one side and League Two’s on the other. 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 seems to be aligning themselves with the League Two position and the non-league position.”
The talks go on. The E.F.L meet again today in another attempt to come to an amicable arrangement, but surely now is the time for the talking to stop!
Paul Lambert is just as bemused as anyone with this prolonged football saga and added with an air of frustration in his voice, “You might not keep everyone happy but at least we can all get our head around it and make plans, be that playing the season now – or ending it and not coming back until September – or whenever. This in-fighting. What’s happening here or there or who wants what, that’s no good for me, it’s not a nice situation.”
The majority of the Town staff are currently furloughed and it is impossible to make plans for any club in this division, as long as this horrid stalemate continues.