Exeter City manager Matt Taylor is hoping the EFL offer to extend the season in Leagues One and Two to ease the burden on clubs that still have plenty of games left to play this season.
The Grecians played host to Bolton Wanderers at St James Park last night in what was just their 20th league game of the campaign – three games short of the 23-match half-way point.
City have to try and cram another 26 in before now and the start of May, when the season is due to finish but, with the likelihood of further Covid outbreaks at clubs across the EFL and poor weather this winter, more could be lost between now and then.
As the new form of Covis continues to sweep the nation with such devastating consequences, there are calls for a circuit break in sport to help ease the spread of the virus.
That would definitely mean an extension to the season would be needed, but with the European Championships scheduled to take place in June and July, and with some games due to take place at Wembley Stadium, the FA and EFL are under pressure to finish their league competitions in May.
That is less important for Leagues One and Two with hardly any players likely to take part in the Euros and an extension to the season is something Peterborough United chairman Darrag MacAnthony has spoken about publicly. Now, he has the support of Taylor, but with one condition.
“I’d agree with that, but the flip side of that is that you need to go into the last few weeks with everyone having the same amount of games left to play,” Taylor said.
“Those extra weeks can’t be an extension of the season for teams choosing when they play their games, we have to hit those last two, possibly three extended weeks with the same amount of games and the same schedule.
“Then it’s a case of getting up to speed and up to the right marks from now until that point. That would be my suggestion and I think Accrington and Peterborough have both said it.
“Let’s be honest, there will be lots more postponements with the weather as well as Covid as well.”
As the number of Covid cases in the UK continues to spread exponentially, there are fears that the season could have a similar conclusion to the 2019-20 campaign, when it was curtailed in March and final placings were decided on a points-per-game average.
MacAnthony said: “I think the season will finish. We don’t need to go to those headlines again.
“I think that was last year’s headline and, going in to 2021, look, we’ve got until the start of May to finish our season.
“If we have go to the end of May, so be it. League One and League Two are not going to have many players going to the Euros this summer.
“So I don’t see why we can’t go an extra two or three weeks if necessary.”
Meanwhile, Taylor has welcomed the decision to test players bi-weekly now with the cost being covered by the Professional Footballers’ Association.
“I think it had to be done,” Taylor said. “One or two things had to happen, either we had a circuit breaker for the safety of players, players’ families and staff alike, or we had to test more.
“I am not sure it will stop the problem because I am sure we will still get a lot of games called off on the back of the testing, but at least we will know they are called off for the right reasons, but it won’t stop a backlog of fixtures.
“We are going to be as many as four games behind some teams in our league and when you look at the fixtures to come and the timeframes involved, it becomes an unfair playing field through no fault of our own.
“Then it comes down to the survival of the fittest as opposed to the best team in the league, so it changes the priorities of the league which is why it is such a serious moment for the governing bodies to deal with.