Harrogate Town's promotion chances boosted by outcome of EFL meeting

National League promotion-hopefuls Harrogate Town received some good news on Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 1:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th June 2020, 2:04 pm
Harrogate Town were second in the National League standings when 2019/20 was suspended due to the coronavirus crisis. Picture: Matt Kirkham

At an Extraordinary General Meeting of Football League (EFL) clubs, members voted on proposals in respect of changes to regulations in the event that the 2019/20 season is curtailed.

It was overwhelmingly agreed - by a majority of all clubs and a majority in the Championship - to adopt the EFL board’s proposed format, should individual divisions decide to abandon all remaining regular-season fixtures.

This now means that final league standings will be determined on unweighted points-per-game (if required), promotion and relegation will be retained, and play-offs will be held in all circumstances.

The good news for Harrogate is that the outcome of the vote ensures that whoever finishes bottom of League Two (currently Stevenage) will be demoted, meaning that two sides will go up from the National League and into the fourth tier for 2020/21.

Clubs in Leagues One and Two will now meet later on Tuesday afternoon to formally determine whether to resume playing the 2019/20 season or opt for curtailment.

Given that League Two members have already stated their intention to abandon the campaign, confirmation of the decision should be a mere formality.

EFL Chairman Rick Parry, said: “Whilst it has always remained the board’s position to play the remainder of the season where possible, the decision reached at today’s meeting follows a full and considered consultation period with our member clubs.

"The board has endeavoured to listen to all views and alternative approaches but understands that the decisions taken will not be met with universal satisfaction from all clubs.

“Today’s outcome ensures that the league and its clubs remains as faithful as possible to the previously agreed regulations and that there is consistency in the approach adopted across the EFL in all divisions if required.

“It is clear that the challenges facing the league from the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic are unprecedented and I thank the contribution of EFL clubs in making this important determination.”

Harrogate were second in the National League standings when competition was suspended in March, just four points behind leaders Barrow, with nine games remaining.

It is expected that Barrow will be promoted to take the place of Bury, who were expelled from the EFL in August, but the chances of the National League 'runner-up' also being offered a spot in League Two were seemingly dependent on a club dropping down into the fifth tier.

National League members voted to end 2019/20 in April and have been waiting on the EFL to act before they determine how to conclude their own season.

They now have to decide whether they want to hold their own play-offs, finalise standings using points-per-game ratio, or void 2019/20.

Harrogate were very much against abandoning the regular season, stating that they wanted the chance to earn promotion on merit once it was safe for football to resume.

Simon Weaver's men may yet still have chance to compete in the play-offs, or could even be promoted as runners-up by virtue of the fact that they are second in the table now and would remain there should PPG be used to determine final standings.