May 21, 2020 / 1:36 PM / 16 days ago

Promotion and relegation to be retained in lower divisions: EFL

(Reuters) - Clubs in the lower divisions of the English Football League (EFL) will still be promoted or relegated if the 2019-20 season is curtailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the EFL said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Championship - Leeds United v Huddersfield Town - Elland Road, Leeds, Britain - March 7, 2020 Leeds Uniteds Luke Ayling celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates Action Images/Ed Sykes/File Photo

The EFL board said they had finalised a draft framework that would be adopted into its regulations in the event of a division ending their season, saying a 51% majority is required to curtail the season in any division.

League Two (fourth-tier) clubs in England unanimously voted to end their season last week while League One (third-tier) clubs failed to reach an agreement over ending their season.

Championship (second-tier) clubs will vote this week on how to conclude the season.

"Resuming the 2019-20 season with the existing format remains the most appropriate course of action from a sporting integrity perspective," the EFL said in a statement here

“But the board accepts there are circumstances that may lead to curtailment (as has been demonstrated with League Two) or a situation subsequently transpires whereby the season is unable to conclude.”

The EFL said the final standings would be decided by an “unweighted points per game” formula if required with promotion and relegation between divisions being retained.

Under the system, Swindon Town, Crewe Alexandra and Plymouth Argyle will be automatically promoted from League Two. Stevenage would be relegated.

“The principle of relegation across all three divisions is integral to the integrity of the pyramid, from the Premier League down to the National League, provided we have assurances that the National League will start season 2020-21,” it added.

League Two sides are relegated to the National League, the fifth division in the country’s football pyramid.

Playoffs would also have to be played with four teams from each division to decide on promotion, but if they cannot be played the EFL board will decide the next course of action.

“The board has always acknowledged that a single solution to satisfy all clubs would always be hard to find,” EFL chairman Rick Parry said.

“But we are at the point now where strong, definitive action is needed for the good of the League and its members.”

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis

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