Detailed: How and why Portsmouth's season is set to end as past injustices are awoken

Through the fog of League One uncertainty a single reality has slowly crept into sharper focus this week: Pompey aren’t going to be promoted.

Friday, 8th May 2020, 1:00 pm
Updated Friday, 8th May 2020, 2:34 pm

And the manner in which their fate is looking increasingly likely to be decided is set to ensure the 2019-20 season will take its place alongside those campaigns which left a sense of injustice hanging over Fratton Park.

Many Blue fans can scarcely stand thinking back to 1993 and the cruelty of being denied Premier League football by virtue of West Ham scoring a single goal more than Jim Smith’s men, and what followed in the play-offs.

Then there’s the two narrow second-tier failures in the 80s under Alan Ball, as first goal difference and one place denied the Gremlins their berth at English football’s top table.

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Now, for all the world, the manner in which promotion will be decided in what looks certain to be an aborted League One season will make up the latest chapter in Pompey’s book of hard luck stories.

The word from within the game is there is now neither the desire or wherewithal to complete the remainder of this term from many of the 23 clubs who make up League One.

The reasons why are manifold, but standing front and centre is the capability and funds to safely test players and not risk lives amid the coronavirus crisis. Not too far behind is the contract minefield looming on the horizon when hundreds of deals come to a close on June 30.

There are others, such as many of the EFL’s members becoming increasingly occupied with simply finding a way to exist moving forward. And getting the season up and running again doesn’t align with that alarming priority.

The late goals conceded at Bristol Rovers last October may prove a key moment in Pompey's season

So then we move on to the manner in which Pompey and their third-tier peers will decide their fate this term. And whichever way you slice it up, the outcome is not the right one for Kenny Jackett’s men.

Two points was the difference between them and the automatic promotion berths when they last kicked a ball in competitive anger eight weeks ago. That tiny distance becomes agonising when we look towards the options for the way forward.

Pompey’s support is for a complete reset as the fairest outcome. No promotion, no relegation and we resume the new season when it’s safe to do so.

Garnering more momentum now is using a points-per-game formula with between and eight and 10 games remaining for clubs.

Taking a straightforward average leaves Pompey fifth (1.71 points per game) and would mean (clenches fist at the football gods) they would miss out to Wycombe by 0.021 of a goal, if three teams were to be promoted.

If reports are to be believed a weighted version of points per game is gathering support among EFL members, which finds an average for a club’s home points and away points then multiplies both by 22 to give a 44-game total.

Again, it’s not good for Pompey who would end up seventh on 74.63 points - but just 1.29 points off third-placed Oxford, who would be promoted.

There are other theories and statistical models being forwarded. Likewise, there are many views being aired over the number of sides to go up and, indeed, if it’s fair to relegate anybody. But, as has continually been the case through this head-spinning narrative, there’s more questions than answers.

Chief executive Mark Catlin admitted the Pompey would feel ‘aggrieved’ at being condemned to their fourth straight term in League One in such a fashion. And with some justification.

But as fans inevitably begin their inquests and reflect on the dropped points, late goals and decisive moments the raw sense of being wronged feels absent this time - tempered by the reality there’s a much more important cause than a promotion for us to be fighting for right now.