The SPFL have confirmed plans to conclude the League One and Two seasons in a split format similar to the Scottish Premiership.
Clubs across these divisions have agreed to a one-off split model after completing 18 games by April 23, 22 games in total to be played in the league. Sides have been warned though that every team must reach 18 games by April 23 or an early ending may occur.
SPFL company secretary Calum Beattie said: “Firstly, I would like to reiterate my thanks to our club colleagues, particularly those involved with the Working Group, for their constructive approach throughout this process.
“We now have a clear route to a definitive conclusion of the 2020/21 League 1 and 2 seasons. Despite unprecedented and unrelenting pressures on the fixture calendar, including a condensed Scottish Cup schedule, we have managed to agree on a way forward which delivers the number of games that clubs are seeking but builds in the contingencies required by the SPFL Board.
“I know how much supporters will be looking forward to their team getting back out on the pitch. We can now all turn our attention to the imminent resumption of competitive action in Leagues 1 and 2 this weekend and look forward to an exciting conclusion to all four SPFL divisions.”
A statement from the 20 clubs on the news still has some discontent over the initial football shutdown in January, clubs now set for a grueling run of games: “After a period of protracted negotiation, Leagues 1 & 2 have finally reached agreement with the SPFL Board to play 22 games to conclude season 2020/21. The SPFL Board’s preference was and remains an 18-game season.
“Games will restart on 20th March, picking up where clubs left off in January. The aim will be to play an initial 18 fixtures, after which each league will split, top 5 and bottom 5, with clubs playing each other one more time, to bring the leagues to a conclusion. If the post-split games cannot all be fulfilled, Points Per Game will be applied to decide final placings, which all clubs have signed up to.
“If the original 18 games are not concluded by the date of the split, the split will not happen. Instead, games will continue to be played until all 18 are concluded in order to meet the season end date and the play-offs. Initially, the League 1 clubs had proposed pushing back the play-offs with the Championship by up to two weeks, taking pressure off the fixturing and players, making the completion of a 22-game season easier.
“Disappointingly, clubs were informed that Championship clubs had advised the SPFL Board that there wasn’t support for that. This was a decision that League 1 clubs reluctantly had to accept. League 1 had offered to push back the play-offs between Leagues 1 & 2 to give League 2 clubs the chance to complete their full season under less pressure.
“Given that League 1 had not been afforded the same opportunity by the Championship, League 2 declined the offer, believing that it was more important to stick together with League 1 and get season 2020/21 completed as 20 clubs following the same route to the end.
“Both leagues are proud to have reached this point unified and determined to face what lies ahead together. In an ongoing spirit of co-operation, there is already planning underway for clubs to allow their facilities to be used in the event a fellow club’s own ground isn’t available or to shift a fixture to a neutral venue to minimise travel for both teams, subject to SPFL approval.
“Likewise, clubs are working to give safe access to testing facilities to players who may live locally but play for another club elsewhere in the country to minimise travel. Competition on the pitch will be as fierce as ever, but the aim is to get everyone over the line and draw a terrible season to a fair conclusion.
“Whilst grateful to SPFL staff for the work done recently in respect of fixturing, the achievement of the 20 clubs in getting to this point should not be underestimated. The suspension of football was imposed on us, with no regard or respect for almost half of the SPFL clubs in Scotland. The impact on us was disregarded.
“We may not be the clubs who bring in the bulk of the money in Scottish football but we have players, staff, fans and sponsors who have chosen us as their clubs. We matter to so many and we will not forget that going forward.
“All 20 clubs across Leagues 1 & 2 have pulled together since January with a common purpose, to get our game back for fans. Today, we have delivered on that objective and look forward to getting back to competitive action on the pitch in the coming week.
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