The FA have announced that the professional football season has now been postponed until the 30th of April at the earliest due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
But how is this impacted Bristol Rovers so far and what will it mean for the rest of their season?
We examine just that in today’s FLW six pointer…
Firstly, how were the Gas getting on ahead of the delay?
“It has been a frustrating season in many ways. Early on, Rovers looked as if they might be able to push for the play-offs but they hit a rough patch of form after Ben Garner took charge in December.
“Garner has won just twice since but both of those have come in the last five games.
“In fact, Rovers put in a fantastic performance in the last game before the season was suspended–beating Sunderland 2-0.”
How have the club responded to the suspension?
“The club has announced that they will “continue to follow Government advice and work collaboratively to keep the situation under review”, though they have not provided an update on how that impacts the squad’s training.
“Additionally, in order to help the club and the staff Rovers have encouraged fans to renew their season tickets, buy things through the club store, sign up to the 1883 club and engage on social media.”
Could it prove beneficial in any way?
“Clearly, this is a nightmare situation and one that will cause the club some real off the pitch issues.
“On the pitch, it will be frustrating for them as they are unable to capitalise on the momentum built in the Sunderland win.
“However, it also may work in Garner’s favour by allowing some of the Rovers squad to recover from injuries.”
Who might it help return from injury?
“Anssi Jaakkola, Josh Hare, and Sam Matthews have all been sidelined for some time, while players like Liam Sercombe, Mark Little and Tareiq Holmes-Dennis have been hampered by injury issues.
“This delay should allow the majority of them to get back to full fitness and may mean that Garner is able to field a much stronger side when football returns.”
Will there be contract complications?
“The delay to the season looks at this point like it will mean the campaign finishes in June or perhaps later.
“Rovers have a number of loan players, such as Jayden Mitchell-Lawson and Timmy Abraham, whose deals mean they’re set to return to their parent clubs at the end of May–those will need to be altered if they want them to stay.
“They also have a number of players that are out of contract at the end of June, such as Alfie Kilgour and Luke Leahy, so if the season runs later than that date, agreements will need to be come to with them.”
What will their season expectations be once they return?
“To finish the season with a flourish and head into the 2020/21 campaign full of confidence.
“This term has been tough for the Gas–the slump in form, injuries and the change in manager have not helped them.
“They’re too far adrift from the top six (14 points away) to really challenge this season but are surely safe from relegation.
“The target now has to be pick up where they left off against Sunderland and ensure they can finish the season well.”