The threat of clubs going bust because of the financial impact of Covid-19 has not gone away, says Football League chairman Rick Parry.
After weeks of argument, Leagues One and Two voted by an “overwhelming majority” to end their seasons in line with EFL guidelines on Tuesday, after a number of alternative proposals and amendments were rejected.
It remains to be seen whether Tranmere and Peterborough, the most vocal opponents of the outcome, decide to pursue a legal fight.
However, for Parry, attention now turns to addressing the “£200m hole” that will exist in the finances of EFL clubs by September, which he outlined in his appearance before the DCMS Select Committee on 5 May.
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“[These votes] have no bearing at all on where I said we were because we still have a massive shortfall,” Parry told BBC Sport.
“My estimate was based essentially on the loss of matchday income, which still remains the case. There is still no prospect of games taking place in front of crowds in the near future.
“Having spent many hours over the last few days and weeks getting clarity on this season, now we can start to turn our attention to the challenges of next season. But those challenges have not diminished in any way shape or form. There is a major problem still facing us.
“The aim is to make sure all the clubs survive and and we will be working 24 hours a day to make sure they do.
“We can’t give guarantees. Who knows whether we have seen the end of this crisis or whether there is going to be a second spike. But our aim, our avowed aim, and we will be giving it our very best shot, is to make sure the EFL comes through this stronger than we are at the moment.”
‘It wasn’t a decision anybody wanted’
The EFL has confirmed two clubs will be promoted directly from League One and three from League Two, with Coventry and Swindon confirmed as respective champions.
Four teams will go into the play-offs from each league, with Wycombe the big winners, going from eighth in League One to third on points-per-game thanks to their match in hand on the teams above them. Peterborough lose their play-off spot as a result.
Three teams, including Tranmere, go down to League Two.
Parry rejected the suggestion Tranmere have been relegated by an arbitrary process.
“They have been undermined by the virus, rather than process,” he said.
“It wasn’t a decision anybody wanted to take. The board’s position throughout has been that we wanted to finish the season. But a whole series of circumstances made that impossible.
“You feel for clubs but it is not as if these were marginal decisions. We had overwhelming votes in terms of the process for curtailing the season and two very strong votes on the part of League Two and League One to actually curtail.”
Uncertainty at the foot of League Two
Arguably, the most difficult decision was to confirm the team that finishes bottom of League Two will be relegated into the National League.
As yet, there is no clear idea of if the National League will be able to start the 2020-21 season, given the uncertainty over when spectators will be allowed to watch games again.
The National League is still to decide how it will finish this season, although if it follows the EFL model, Barrow would be promoted, with Barnet moving into a six-team play-off at the expense of Stockport County.
Parry confirmed the EFL would only relegate a club into the National League if there was no “equivalent competition” for that club to play in, suggesting if the gap between respective leagues starting was too great, it would not happen.
However, it is not clear who the bottom club in League Two will eventually be.
Stevenage are currently bottom. However, Macclesfield, who have already had 11 points deducted – with an additional two currently suspended – are facing another EFL charge for late payment of March’s salaries. If Macclesfield lost a further three points, they would replace Stevenage at the foot of League Two.
It is understood the EFL case will be heard before the end of the month.
“Macclesfield have been charged,” said Parry. “That is a process that will take its course. We are not commenting on when but it will be resolved relatively soon.”