ROTHERHAM United’s wait to learn their promotion fate is set to be over in a matter of days.
The vote of League One clubs on whether to end the coronavirus-hit season early is poised to take place next week and the Millers would climb to the Championship under new regulations set out by governing body the EFL if enough teams decide against playing on.
Uncertainty has surrounded the time frame of the polling procedure but the Advertiser understands that the EFL plans to hold the vote as soon as possible after the weekend.
Rotherham are optimistic that the result will go in their favour, with manager Paul Warne saying: “Now that the League have put their recommendations in place, it feels like there’s a wave towards curtailing the season.”
The EFL were holding a board meeting yesterday (Wednesday) to formally propose the new rules that would allow promotion, play-off and relegation issues in the Championship, League One and League Two to be decided on an unweighted points-per-game basis if seasons are forced to finish early.
Clubs from all three leagues will vote, probably on Monday, on whether to accept that concept — which needs a 51 per cent majority from each division — and are expected to give it the green light.
League One sides will then hold another poll on ending the 2019/20 campaign, which has been suspended since March.
Health concerns and the financial ramifications of staging games behind closed doors are likely to see many of them elect to stop playing. If 12 or more of the 23 teams vote that way then Rotherham will be promoted along with leaders Coventry City.
“Clubs understandably have serious financial concerns,” Warne said. “There have been two stories this week. The Huddersfield Town owner thinks 50 to 60 clubs could hit the wall. In Australia, there’s a report that players might have to take an 80 per cent wage cut.
“Then there are all the health implications of playing on. It would take a lot of money for clubs to get all the required Covid-19 testing and precautions in place.
“I think that, to help get them through the next few months, clubs will try to retain as much money as they can. If you’re a club in a position with nothing to gain from coming back — apart from the word, ‘integrity’, which gets bandied about all over the place — why would you want to come back?
“If you haven’t got any money as a club and you’re in your overdraft why would you take on another debt? I just can’t see it.”
Warne admits he has been as confused as anyone about the running order and exact dates of the voting. “It’s been a bit hazy,” he said. “I watched Celebrity SAS on Monday night. If I’d been under interrogation about it, there would have been a few holes in my story.”
The boss believes the EFL’s 71 clubs will be united in approving PPG being added to the rulebook.
“I can’t see it not going through,” he said. “I don’t see anyone taking massive umbrage to that being the way to decide an uncompleted season in the future if there was to be a worldwide epidemic again.”
PAUL Warne fears Rotherham United could be left with a fixture pile-up of 12 games in a month if clubs vote to resume the League One season.
The poll on whether football should start up again after being shut down for more than two months by the coronavirus pandemic won’t take place until next week and a ‘play on’ result would leave the Millers and other clubs short of time to cram in their remaining matches
“We’ll already be in June,” the manager said. “Then we’ve got to take three or four weeks to get the lads fit.
“It would be July before we’d even kick a ball competitively. We’d have to get in nine league matches and potentially two play-off games and a final in four weeks.”
UEFA has set a deadline of July 31 for leagues to be completed.
Most sides are expected to vote to accept a points-per-game ratio as a way of settling the table and end the campaign now. That would promote second-placed Rotherham to the Championship along with leaders Coventry City.
Meanwhile, Michael Ihiekwe is back running after knee surgery and, along with fellow centre-half Clark Robertson, is well on the way to full fitness.
“If we were to come back, I reckon both would be able to join in training,” Warne said.
Strikers Jerry Yates and Josh Kayode are back with the Millers after loan spells but wouldn’t be able to feature in any run-in as, technically, their temporary moves to Swindon Town and Carlisle United last until the end of the campaign.