The decision has been made for League Two to come to an abrupt end due to COVID-19. Clubs within the league are wanting the final standings to be decided by a points per game system. For the two Gloucestershire clubs, Cheltenham Town and Forest Green this has its positives and negatives.
Cheltenham would have to settle for fourth which they may see as a disappointment considering they are currently four points off automatic promotion with a game in hand. However under the revised system, the play-offs would be set to go ahead meaning they still have a chance of a return to the third tier of English football after an eleven year absence. Their play-off opponents would be Northampton Town, who the Robins picked four points up against during this season. Unfortunately due to the expected birth of his second child, captain Ben Tozer is a serious doubt for the play-offs as he doesn’t want to risk catching the virus and putting his family at risk.
Tozer told Gloucestershire Live that his family have to come first.
That is my main concern now,” he said. “At the start I was pretty blase about it all.
“I’ve been in a bit of a bubble, ignoring a lot of the reports and concentrating on the family.
“The thought of my baby and my wife and getting Covid through me playing doesn’t bear thinking about, so it is a tough one.”
These life implications are things that every staff member, playing or non playing have to consider. As a club the financial strain that COVID-19 has put the Robins in will mean that promotion money could help balance the books. Unfortunately for this reward there is a risk. According to Stevenage owner Phil Wallace the financial costs for testing alone will be a massive investment for a league two team, he told BBC Sport;
“It would cost us £140,000 for the tests, we would have to bring players out of furlough and comply with a 47-page health and safety document regarding sterilisation of stadiums etc.”
However Cheltenham Town football secretary, Paul Godfrey has stated that the Robins wish to play the remainder of the season,
“It can’t be done division by division, so League Two couldn’t decide to finish with League One carrying on for instance.
“Cheltenham Town’s position all along is that we want to play to a finish,” he said to Gloucestershire Live.
If Cheltenham were put in this situation but failed to secure promotion, it would put an even bigger dent into what will be a money losing season.
For Forest Green however, their season is over with them set to finish in 11th. This is an anti-climax for their teams and fans whom were wishing for a late play-off charge. Owner Dale Vince has argued that there was an unanimous feel at the meeting as he believes that calling the season early would mean un unfair outcome for all clubs.
“Do we just call it according to where we all are in the league? Automatically promote the top three, relegate the bottom clubs and have a play-off, or not have a play-off?
“We think for the integrity of the competition, for the promotion and relegation battles, it’s [completing the season] the only proper way to do it,” he told BBC Sport.
Theres so many aspects that have to be taken into account when determining what is the best move for football, however at the moment, the best decision needs to be made for the health of the players and their families. Whatever conclusion is made, there will be a divide of opinion.