Bolton could be spared relegation if leaked report proves true

By Marc Iles

Chief Football Writer

Bolton could be spared relegation if leaked report proves true

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WANDERERS’ future in League One has been thrown into some confusion by reports which claim relegation could be scrapped for the 2019/20 season.

In a leaked WhatsApp conversation, Bristol Rovers winger Alex Rodman - who is the club's PFA representative – is claimed to have relayed details from his talks with the EFL.

And it is alleged Rodman confirmed the League will decide the promotion places on 'sporting merit' while also deciding to do away with relegation.

In that scenario, the Premier League would expand to 23 teams for one season only – and Wanderers would remain in League One.

The league has not commented on the validity of the conversation, which also stated they were considering closing stadia to fans until January.

Premier League chief executives are due to meet today to discuss ‘Project Restart’ – which they hope can see top-flight football resumed, with Government blessing, in five weeks.

But whereas the finance is more readily available to complete the 91 remaining games in the top-flight, the political and logistical problems in the bottom two divisions could be insurmountable.

Publicly, the EFL has maintained that it will do everything possible to complete the season but reports in the national press have claimed that club captains and union representatives have been briefed that there is a “very real possibility” the League One and Two seasons will not be completed.

Wanderers have stuck steadfastly to their view that they would complete the season if the EFL instructed them to do so – and the club has recently drawn up plans to play games behind closed doors, according to the league’s wishes.

But with concern over the public perception of re-starting the season with the country still gripped by the coronavirus crisis, and the extent of testing which would be necessary to stage more than 300 remaining games, discussion among clubs has now taken a different turn.

If the authorities were to decide there could be no further games played in the 2019/20 season, thoughts would turn to how promotion and relegation should be addressed – if at all.

Earlier this week the French government declared that no competitive sport will be played before September – and yesterday the final table in Ligue 1 was decided on points-per-game with Paris St Germain declared champions.

Should that system be used in League One, none of the teams currently occupying automatic promotion or relegation places would be affected – but Wycombe would replace Peterborough United in the play-offs. Wanderers would remain 23rd in the table.

Should that happen in League One, none of the teams currently occupying automatic promotion or relegation places would be affected – but Wycombe would replace Peterborough United in the play-offs. Wanderers would remain 23rd in the table.

If the season was declared null and void, effectively restarted without promotion or relegation, then the EFL would also have to decide whether Wanderers would start on minus 12 points, for going into administration last May.