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PPG or play-offs: Where Cheltenham Town and Forest Green could finish amid reports of League Two abandonment

League Two had been widely reported to have accepted defeat to the COVID-19 outbreak, with a voided season all but assumed before a U-turn earlier this week.

It has been confirmed that League One and League Two clubs are now united in completing the season, with hundreds of games left to play across both divisions.

League Two and League One officials will reportedly vote today on the abandonment of the season, which could prematurely curtail a season that had promised so much for our Gloucestershire clubs.

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Last night, Peterborough United owner Darragh MacAnthony spoke on behalf of six clubs in the promotion picture as he released a statement on Twitter demanding the fulfilment of fixtures.

Fleetwood chairman and owner Andy Pilley echoed his thoughts on Twitter: “We at Fleetwood Town are backing the completion of EFL League One fixtures”

But if the season cannot be fulfilled, concluded nor safely played out, here’s how the EFL may calculate the League Two final standings.

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MODEL A: TABLE AS IT STANDS

How does it work? The most basic of models. Promotion and relegation would be decided on the current standings.

What it would mean: Swindon, Crewe and Plymouth would all be automatically promoted. Crewe have played a game more than Swindon who sit in second, level on points with David Artell’s side who would be crowned champions in this case.

Where else has it been used? The Dutch Eredivisie abandoned their season and finalised standings based off their current table. The Belgian FA is also reportedly close to making a similar decision at the weekend.

Pros: A straightforward decision without the need to select and outline decisions, which could potentially cause more problems. 

Cons: The play-off picture remains skewed. Will the highest placed club be promoted without the possibility of fulfilling the games? Cheltenham have played a game less than all of their Play-Off rivals, surely deeming their absence from promotion unfair.

MODEL B: POINTS PER GAME

How does it work? The table would be decided on how many points each team has averaged in games across the season so far.

What it would mean? Cheltenham Town would have a viable chance of automatic promotion as the play-offs would not be played in this instance. Michael Duff’s side would move up to fourth with Swindon, Crewe and Plymouth all filling out the other automatic spots.

How is it calculated? You divide points by the number of games played. So Forest Green have 40 points from 36 games: 40/36 = 1.36

Were else has it been used? The LFP used points per game to decide the Ligue 1 standings earlier this month. This method did however receive major backlash – of course from those who had been relegated to lower positions as a result.

Pros: It recognises those who have played fewer games, like both Cheltenham Town and Forest Green would be at an disadvantage in current standings.

Cons: It does not factor relative home and away from as more team will have played home games, presuming an unfair advantage. Also it can be unfair to clubs who haven’t played promotion hopefuls at home rather than away.

↑ Swindon Town – 1.92
↓ Crewe Alexandra – 1.86
↔ Plymouth – 1.84
↑ Cheltenham – 1.78
↓ Exeter City – 1.76
↔ Colchester – 1.57
↔ Northampton – 1.57
↔ Port Vale – 1.54
↔ Bradford – 1.46
↑ Forest Green – 1.36
↓ Salford City – 1.35
↑ Walsall – 1.31
↓ Crawley Town – 1.30
↑ Newport – 1.28
↓ Grimsby – 1.27
↔ Cambridge Utd – 1.22
↔ Leyton Orient – 1.17
↔ Carlisle Utd – 1.14
↔ Oldham – 1.11
↔ Scunthorpe – 1.08
↔ Mansfield – 1.06
↔ Macclesfield – 0.97
↔ Morecambe – 0.86
↔ Stevenage – 0.61

MODEL C: WEIGHTED POINTS PER GAME (WPPG)

How does it work? Similar to PPG, but the weighted element takes into account each team’s home and away form and provide an average for each, which is then multiplied across a 46-game season.

What it would mean? Cheltenham would still finish fourth, whilst Forest Green would end the season in 11th place with home form to blame.

How is it calculated? Divide points by the number of games played for home and away form separately. Multiply each number by 19 and add them together to create a total points tally.

Where else has it been used? This method was used to decide the final tables in rugby union’s English Clubs Championship (mens levels 3-12).

Pros: It takes into account home and away form, rather than a more generalised average for each club’s form.

Cons: It does not factor in the strength of teams still to play. Some have played most of the top half sides at home (giving them a lower average), whereas others have tough run-ins ahead.

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MODEL D: ROLL BACK TO 23 GAMES

What is this? This is the league table after each team had played each other once, concluding the season at the half way point.

What would it mean? Compared to simple PPG there would be large change at the top of the table, with considerable alterations for both Gloucestershire clubs. Cheltenham would replace Forest Green in the Play-Off positions on goal difference. Though with the limited possibility of playing the play-offs, this would be rendered useless in the grand scheme of things.

How is it calculated? Only the first time each club has played each other is counted.

Where else has it been used? LFP was keen on using the system in France, but eventually decided against it.

Pros: As each team has played each other once, it removes any argument about teams having harder run-ins.

Cons: It can change a table considerably, and doesn’t factor in a team’s form or winning streaks. It also doesn’t factor in harder home or away fixtures.

How do you feel Cheltenham Town and Forest Green’s seasons should be ended? Let us know @ParkLifeSport on Twitter.

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