10:05PM, Thursday 02 July 2020
Maidenhead United survived relegation by the skin of their teeth thanks to the National League’s points-per-game (PPG) calculation which determined places following the early end of the season, however, Magpies manager Alan Devonshire doesn’t think it was very fair at all.
With the season ended with eight or nine matches still to be played, the league calculated the final placings based on a weighted PPG method that saw Maidenhead skip back above Ebbsfleet United into fourth from bottom place.
It was enough to save them from the drop. Ebbsfleet, together with AFC Fylde and Chorley FC were relegated.
But, despite their survival, Devonshire wasn’t happy with the system used and would have preferred the season to have been voided, saying the only teams that are ‘laughing’ are those that have been promoted, or are soon to be promoted through the play-offs.
“If you start a 46-game season and it’s not finished then sorry, it’s void,” he said.
“If the London Marathon was stopped after 22 miles for whatever reason, you don’t just give the medals to the runners who were first, second and third at the time do you?
“You just wouldn’t. The teams that are laughing are the teams that are getting promoted because of this.
“You can’t go on calculators and games that have gone on before. We could lose five on the bounce and then win the next three.
“A few seasons ago we looked like we were getting relegated and we ended up winning four games on the bounce and were safe with about four or five games to go. So I just don’t think it’s right. It’s very unfair.
“The last nine or 10 games of a season is when the pressure is on at both ends of the table.
“I remember when we were promoted, Ebbsfleet won all 10 of their remaining games and we had to win nine just to stay ahead of them. That’s the pressure and it changes things.
“I’m looking at the Championship and Charlton would have been relegated on PPG.
“They’ve won two games and are clear of it now. Barnsley have taken four points from their first two games and Luton won at Swansea. That just shows you that you can’t calculate these things. It’s just not fair. In the Premier League, West Ham, Bournemouth and Watford are all very similar.
“The last game of the season sees West Ham against Villa.
“For the top four, Chelsea have got Wolves and Leicester have got Man Utd. It could all change on those games alone.
Devonshire played in one of the first ever behind-closed-doors matches and admits it was a very strange experience.
He understands why the Premier League and Championship has returned without fans and says it’s got absolutely nothing to do with ‘integrity’ and everything to do with the threat of the leagues missing out on TV money from the likes of Sky and other broadcasters. While games at that level may go on, and players will have to adapt to it, he says he can’t see a way out of this muddling situation at present for non-league clubs.
He also has no problem with clubs in the National League paying thousands to put measures in place to proceed with play-off matches later this month, so long as they can afford to do it.
Slough Town players were due to be tested for COVID-19 yesterday (Wednesday) and are set to resume training on Saturday ahead of their play-off clash at home to Dartford on either July 18/19.
“Life has got to go on but I don’t know how we can plan for football,” he said. “I don’t know how we’re going to sort this out. The Premier League is fine with its TV money. It’s probably strange for the players, but they’re professionals and will get on with it.
“I played in the first behind closed doors match many years ago and it is strange because you can hear everything that’s being said to everyone. It’s their job. They’ll adapt to it and it won’t be a problem. But what’s the way forward from this? I don’t know and I don’t think anyone does.”
On National League clubs preparing to compete in the play-offs, Devonshire added: “The money is going to be tight for clubs anyway. But if they’ve got chairmen who want to do it that’s fine. They must be back in training now but I don’t know how it works with paying the players. There are lots of expenses and you could be out after only one game. We’ve got all six clubs in the play-offs competing and it might have made more sense to just have the four, but listen, they’ll all be behind closed doors so it’s going to be strange.
“The Premier League have said this (Project Restart) is about integrity. It’s not about integrity, it’s about getting back to playing football because they were going to lose £750million from Sky.
“At the end of the day, this is unprecedented and football isn’t important compared to this. This is people’s lives we’re talking about. We’ve had more than 40,000 people die and they’re still dying every day.”
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