PAUL Warne has made a final, impassioned call for Rotherham United to be awarded automatic promotion as clubs prepare to vote on the outcome of the League One season.
The Millers boss says being promoted in this coronavirus-hit campaign is more crucial than it has ever been in living memory.
The third tier’s 23 teams are expected to meet before the weekend to decide whether to resume playing or bring to a close a season that stopped in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rotherham were in second place when football was shut down and Warne said: “My team are in an automatic position and, without wanting to sound too melodramatic, I want to see that go through, not only for the town but for all my staff and players.
“We’re talking about jobs and everything here. The importance of promotion this season is greater than in any other season I have ever known for every club.”
The future is uncertain for many clubs because the lack of matchday income has damaged them financially and Warne knows how much the Millers would benefit from the extra money in the Championship.
The boss is in favour of a vote that ends the season now and automatically promotes his side and leaders Coventry City while allowing the teams from third to sixth spot to hold play-offs to decide the third promotion place.
Some of the teams just outside of the top two would prefer to play out the season or extend the play-off format to eight sides.
“There are a lot of clubs fighting to go up,” Warne said. “Owners are understandably just trying to fight their corner for as long as they can.
“I think that any team who was in our or Coventry’s position would expect and demand an automatic promotion. There’s no owner out there who would say: ‘Well, if we were second we would rather play on.’ Why would you risk your automatic position?
“I read the comments of different owners. I can see where they’re coming from. Whether I agree with them is a different matter.”
Teams had between eight and ten games remaining when playing was suspended. Options now available to clubs include completing the season, declaring it null and void or ending it now and deciding promotion and relegation issues on a points-per-game basis.
The division’s governing body, the EFL, who were scheduled to hold a board meeting yesterday (Wednesday), want the clubs to decide their own fate but have already said their preferred scenario is promotions via PPG.
Warne said: “Even if my side weren’t in the top two, I would expect automatics to happen because the EFL stance is that if the league finishes and games aren’t played then the league is what it is.
“I would expect automatic promotion for first and second and then play-offs for the third spot. But teams should take part in the play-offs only if they want to come back. They may not want to through health or wealth.”
The manager concedes that relegations should also happen if the season ends prematurely.
“If teams go up, you have to have teams down as well,” he said. “If I was in the bottom three I would be devastated and try to do everything I could to make that not happen.”