Rotherham United chairman Tony Stewart speaks out as League One clubs fail to agree

Rotherham United chairman Tony Stewart speaks out as League One clubs fail to agree

By Paul Davis | 15/05/2020

Rotherham United chairman Tony Stewart speaks out as League One clubs fail to agree
Tony Stewart

 

ROTHERHAM United chairman Tony Stewart pointed the finger at the 'Magic Six' as he revealed a split between clubs had prevented a vote to end the League One campaign early because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Third-tier sides met this morning via a conference call to try to thrash out a solution but were unable to reach an agreement and a follow-up meeting is planned for Monday.

Most clubs are believed to favour calling off the campaign now because of the financial impact of taking their players out of furlough, introducing Covid-19 testing and playing behind-closed-doors matches which would generate little income.

There would then be a vote on whether the current top two - Coventry City and the Millers - should be awarded promotion on a points-per-game basis.

But Peterborough United, Oxford United, Portsmouth, Fleetwood Town, Sunderland and Ipswich Town - the teams generally just behind the top two in the league standings - are adamant the season should be played to its conclusion.

"I don't think there were sticking points," Stewart said this afternoon. "I think what happened was Rick Parry (EFL chairman) decided to open it to whoever and the magic six, and I am sure you know who they are, are thinking that they could have got to higher heights.

"Then there was a split with the lower clubs saying they couldn't throw money at things.

"There was a split but I do believe if it went to a vote it would be for a cancellation.

"I am going to have a word with Rick Parry, because the testing, everything that goes before you kick a ball, all that comes into play.

"Here we are we another meeting that is going to kick on to Monday and Tuesday. I am like most chairman. I am frustrated by the indecision.

"We need a decision on whether we fulfil the fixtures. The other option is the best option."

League Two clubs today voted to call off their season and have automatic promotion and play-offs but no relegation.

Stewart, whose team had played 35 of their 44 fixtures before the league programme was suspended, added: "I wish we could be as decisive as that. It is ridiculous. I believe there are two options now: one is to fulfil the fixtures totally and the other is the top two will go up, three will go down and the next four from the top will be in the play-offs."

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MORE FROM THE CHAIRMAN

Attempting to finish the season:

"There are anomolies with regards to the 'no tackles' issue and contact. If we do return, it means we've played 35 games in one type of game and the next nine in another type of game. That's not taking into account that along the way someone could get the virus and the impact of that. There's the travelling. You can't get a hotel. There are lots of things that seem to be an obstacle. I can't see us overcoming the obstacles that are there."

Next meeting:

"They have allowed us to ponder the meeting today. I am hoping it is Monday. We were told there was going to be a decision by this Wednesday, then it was going to be Friday and now we have got the weekend. We are running out of time."

Frustration:

"Meeting after meeting. I just don't feel as if we are moving forward. We seem to be talking about the same thing. If I was to assume anything I would assume the problem lies with the Premier League. Without money coming from them or the Government, I can't see some  teams getting to Christmas."

Speaking to Parry:

"Because we are in the second position, I have not been vocal. I need to try to get some persuasion into a decision being made so we know what we are doing. League Two have made their decision, not only the decision not to play but also the decision on where teams are sitting next season. They have got all the time now until August or whenever to prepare."

Covid-19 testing for players and staff:

"The comment in the week would be that the EFL would pay and then we got an email saying 'This is the cost' and that it would be borne by each club. That is in the clouds at the moment. Chairman like me are laughing at it. We have been starved of cash. We have not earned a bean in the last seven or eight weeks. We are not selling season tickets and sponsors aren't jumping out of the water. Everything is on hold but expenses and costs are still there."



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