MacAnthony proposes an outrageous eight team play-off mini tournament

Peterborough owner Darragh MacAnthony has suggested the idea of ending the season with an eight-team play-off to decide who joins Coventry and Rotherham in promotion to the Championship.

Peterborough’s Darragh MacAnthony has been the main spokesperson of the six clubs vying to keep the season alive, Town included. However, according to Bristol Live  as many as 11 of the division’s 23 sides would be in favour of completing the season, with discussions set to continue on Monday.

MacAnthony’s latest comments suggest a rather outrageous proposal which would consist of an eight team play-off, with the winner joining Coventry and Rotherham in the Championship.

If the points-per-game system is deployed for MacAnthony’s eight team play-off tournament, Town would miss out, with Wycombe Wanderers, Oxford United, Portsmouth, Peterborough United, Sunderland, Doncaster Rovers and Gillingham taking part in the mini competition.

“We’re still in there fighting. Just because League Two have voted one way doesn’t mean we will automatically follow,” MacAnthony told talkSPORT.

“We will fight to the end. There are still things to debate and there are some mid-table clubs open to backing us. The fat lady is not singing yet.

“There is a good batch of clubs who want to keep playing, but also a good number who want to shut up shop. It’s bizarre. We are all in the football business and now we have a green light to play again, lots of clubs don’t want to play.

“There was an openness at the meeting which was good and I get the reasoning for clubs who don’t want to play, but the right thing to do is to play on whenever that’s possible.

“They might even use points per game (PPG) to decide final placings which means we would be screwed out of the play-offs as well. It’s deflating, but I am still fighting and there will be more meetings and discussions taking place. 

“We have lost three of our last 10 games, we have nine matches left and five are at home. We really fancy it with the games we have left.

“How can it be right that the chance of promotion is just taken away from us? There are so many relevant factors that are ignored by using PPG. Wycombe would move above us [into Posh’s current sixth position] under PPG, but their game in hand is at Coventry who have lost three times all season. Who decides they would win that game?

“It’s just wrong on so many fronts. I even suggested if we had play-offs we should go for broke and have an 8-10 team tournament with matches live on Sky to determine who joins the top two in the Championship.”

The idea is something which Sunderland boss Phil Parkinson is keen on when speaking to the Sunderland Echo.

“The ideal solution is all games get played, I have to stress that,” Parkinson 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.”

Meanwhile, according to the Daily Mail, many managers of League One clubs have indicated their desire to end the season now.

The report suggests that the managers were not unanimous in how the final standings should be determined (either weighted points-per-game or not), but believe Tranmere should get a reprieve due to Bury leaving the league earlier in the season.

Coventry City and Rotherham would be promoted, with one team from the traditional four play-off teams. Bolton and Southend would be relegated to League Two.

It is likely that if League One is not resumed, the EFL will decide the final table with an unweighted points-per-game system, which was the outcome of the League Two meeting on Friday.

Shrewsbury Town are the latest club who have now stated publicly their desire to end the season now.

Chief executive Brian Caldwell told the Shropshire Star he believes it is not morally right to put players at risk whilst the country is still struggling with the pandemic.

“I certainly don’t feel comfortable bringing them back in and putting them at risk.” Caldwell said.

“We have received guidance which is 47 pages, it is quite concise. It says the players should only train in groups of five, they are to arrive in their kit, they are to be screened on arrival. 

“They are not allowed in the dressing rooms to use the toilet, they are not allowed in the restaurant, the gym is to be closed. Physiotherapy is to be minimal, they are not allowed to have any contact. 

“They can do some shooting drills etc, etc. But what they can do is actually very limited. Bringing our staff into a risk situation – whoever it might be – we have to think about that very carefully.

“How does it look for football to come back and take an ambulance for games? To have a doctor there to facilitate that, taking them away from the NHS. 

“There are many parts of this I am just not comfortable with.”

Photo: Peterborough United Website

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