Portsmouth reaching a divided end game as the League One carnival of the bizarre searches for integrity

In 2008 Pompey picked up one of the most famous wins in their history when they went to Manchester United and knocked Alex Ferguson’s galaxy of stars out of the FA Cup.
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For many, it was that glorious afternoon at Old Trafford which won Harry Redknapp’s men the famous,old tournament.

Now, just imagine a scenario where that happened and the FA then decided to invite United back into the last four along with Chelsea, who were defeated by Barnsley later that same day.

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In fact, let’s just say they ignored all the quarter-final results and brought back all four defeated sides into proceedings and made everyone play the games again.

Sounds nuts doesn’t it? It sounds nuts because it is - almost exactly like the notion of deciding an outcome of a season and then opening the play-offs up to four of the sides who finished outside of the top six.

These are strange and unprecedented days we’re living in, but such an event unfolding would turn League One into a carnival of the bizarre, all at a time when integrity is the buzzword for completing the EFL term.

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But as this violently swinging narrative reaches its end game there’s still enough time for it to jar back and forth. And make no mistake the conspiratorial whispers, Machiavellian lobbying and horse-trading is taking place to allow that to happen.

Chairman Rick Parry met with the EFL board today. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)Chairman Rick Parry met with the EFL board today. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Chairman Rick Parry met with the EFL board today. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

What is still abundantly clear, though, is the lack of consensus which is likely to make the outcome such a contentious issue.

While League Two and the National League find common ground at one end of the spectrum and the Premier League with the Championship at the other, the third tier remains firmly divided.

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With clubs as disparate in size as Sunderland and Accrington, Pompey and AFC Wimbledon that’s hardly surprising. Their needs and agendas vary massively, making common ground a stranger.

A season completed on the pitch remains the Blues’ stated goal along with the league’s, but a more pressing battle for existence is dominating the thoughts of their peers and making the likelihood of that occurring more problematic.

It’s that over any perceived safety concerns which now appear the bigger barrier to it occurring. The reality is football is probably the safest place to hide from Covid-19 at present - as seen by less than one per cent of 748 Premier League tests being positive.

There are no easy decisions to make, no simple outcomes to reach. There wasn’t even a clear view on whether the changes imposed constitute a rule or regulation change, significant because of the differing margins needed to carry a motion.

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That is reflected in the polite stand-off clubs currently find themselves in. Two teams up and four into the play-offs at some point down the line in a division decided on unweighted points per game, just about looks the most likely outcome with the moment of truth for League One nigh.