What could happen next for Peterborough United as the coronavirus wreaks havoc with English football

Posh chairman Darraghh MacAnthony has plenty to think about.Posh chairman Darraghh MacAnthony has plenty to think about.
Posh chairman Darraghh MacAnthony has plenty to think about.
Peterborough United and the rest of the professional football community in England will be kicking their heels for the next three weeks - and most probably longer - until the coronavirus threat passes.

The Premier League and the English Football League are due to meet again early this week to discuss the possibilities for the rest of the current football season.

Here are the dilemmas they face...

1) In an ideal world, the coronavirus threat will have have gone by April 3, the provisional date set by the EFL & Premier League for a return to actio. Clubs would then be able to play Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday to clear the backlog and meet existing dates for the play-offs. The League One play-off final date is currently scheduled for Sunday, May 24

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Posh boss Darren Ferguson has contigency plans in place to cope with the coronavirus threat,Posh boss Darren Ferguson has contigency plans in place to cope with the coronavirus threat,
Posh boss Darren Ferguson has contigency plans in place to cope with the coronavirus threat,

Few expect this to happen so a further delay to fixtures appears inevitable. The play-off final could be pushed back. It would still be held at Wembley, especially if the Euros 2020 become the Euros 2021.

2) The EFL could decide to end the leagues now with the current positions standing. In League One this would cause uproar as it’s so close at the top with just two points separating second-placed Rotherham and eighth-placed Wycombe. Wycombe also have a game in hand on Rotherham.

At the bottom end of the table Tranmere (who are in a relegation place) are two points behind AFC Wimbledon (who are not in a relegation place), but have a game in hand.

Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony says halting the competition in this way would lead to mass lawsuits.

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“All this talk of cancelling the leagues has to stop. People need to calm down. There will be plenty of time to complete the leagues when this all dies down.

“If the leagues are cancelled there will be a multitude of lawsuits.”

3) The EFL could declare their competitions null and void, but again this would doubtless lead to many lawsuits. League One relegation certainties Bolton and Southend would presumably be delighted with this outcome, but leaders Coventry City and clubs like Posh who fancy their chances of promotion, would be furious.

4) Most pundits believe the EFL will somehow complete their competitions, but no-one knows how long the UK will have a sporting lockdown.

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The 2019-20 season could be postponed/extended to late summer which would then cause a delay to the start of the 2020-21 season. Supporters of this line believe the competition has to be finished no matter when for reasons of integrity.

This scenario is complicated by player contracts expiring in June 30. Loan deals are usually timed to expire in May. A new transfer window could also be running while the end of the season plays out. It sound chaotic and it would be.

It is further complicated by the unknown recovery rate for players who do catch coronavirus.

Clubs also have to keep their unaffected players fit and healthy. They could require a new pre-season training regime to get back up to speed for the final nine or so games of the season.

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Finding a fair way to decide on a new start date could be fraught. Some will say a player with coronavirus should be treated no different to a player with a more common injury or to a suspended player.

Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony and his staff continue to be proactive. Just today (March 15), MacAnthony, who has ordered coronavirus tests for his players and staff at a cost to the club of £6k, tweeted: ‘I had conference call with all football staff yesterday & we have executed a plan for next three weeks re this situation & came up with plan B if training isn’t allowed for some reason so players can stay in shape.’

Whatever the major leagues in this country decide, expect fierce debate, controversy andeager legal eagles preparing to enrich themselves.