Top 8 mini tournament – how it might have looked

File photo dated 21-08-2019 of an official match ball of the Sky Bet EFL.

Due to the football season being suspended because of the recent Coronavirus outbreak, there has been a lot of uncertainty about how the season will end.

One of the proposed ideas from the EFL was a mini tournament, which would see the top eight teams from each division face off against each other.

Recently, an exclusive from the Sunderland Echo revealed that the mini tournament will not take place, and the EFL will look at other options to finish the season.

If the mini tournament was to take place, how might it pan out?

I created a virtual tournament on Fifa 20 with the top eight teams in League One before the season was suspended to see how it would unfold.

The teams in contention are Coventry City, Rotherham United, Oxford United, Portsmouth, Fleetwood Town, Peterborough United, Sunderland and Wycombe Wanderers.

Before the season was suspended, Coventry and Rotherham occupied the top two positions. Oxford, Portsmouth, Fleetwood and Peterborough took up the play-off places, whilst Sunderland and Wycombe sat in seventh and eighth respectively.

Using the default teams and tactics, I got the tournament underway.

Matchday 1:

The first set of fixtures saw Sunderland defeat Peterborough 1-0, along with Portsmouth defeating Oxford 1-0. Fleetwood overcame Rotherham 3-1, while Coventry triumphed over Wycombe 2-0. Fleetwood took first place, with Coventry second, whilst Portsmouth and Sunderland sat in third and fourth.

Matchday 2:

The second round of fixtures brought up some interesting results, with Sunderland picking up three points after a 4-1 win over Wycombe. Coventry and Rotherham played out a goalless draw, whilst Portsmouth beat Fleetwood 2-1. The spoils were shared between Oxford and Peterborough as they drew 2-2. Sunderland and Portsmouth moved into the top two spots, with Coventry just behind in third.

Matchday 3:

Round three and wins for Sunderland and Portsmouth saw them extend their lead at the top of the table. Sunderland defeated Oxford 3-0, while Portsmouth bested Coventry 2-1. Fleetwood jumped ahead of Coventry in the league, after a 4-1 over Peterborough. Wycombe remained pointless after three games after a 3-2 loss against Rotherham.

Matchday 4:

Portsmouth maintained their 100% win record after a 3-1 win over Wycombe, as Sunderland dropped into second after a 1-1 draw against Rotherham. Fleetwood remained in third place despite a 1-0 loss against Oxford. With two points separating four teams, the third spot was all to play for going into the final three games. Wycombe were falling further away from the pack, being six points off third.

Matchday 5:

Sunderland were the only team to win in round five of the tournament, after a 3-1 win over Fleetwood, with the other three games ending in draws. That win saw Sunderland go back on top, with Portsmouth falling into second on goal difference after a 1-1 against Rotherham. These two results saw Sunderland and Portsmouth secure promotion in the top two, after they pulled seven points clear of Fleetwood and Rotherham who were on six points. Wycombe picked up their first point of the tournament with a 2-2 draw against Peterborough, and Oxford drew with Coventry 1-1. It was all to play for with just one point separating five teams.

Matchday 6:

With the top two decided, the battle for third place was hotting up with five teams still in contention to gain that final promotion spot. Coventry beat Fleetwood 3-1, while Oxford defeated bottom of the table Wycombe 2-1 to pick up a crucial three points. Coventry and Oxford rose to third and fourth respectively on eight points, with Rotherham in fifth on seven points after a 2-2 draw against Peterborough. Fleetwood and Peterborough remained on six points, while Sunderland extended their lead at the top to three points after a 2-0 win over Portsmouth.

Matchday 7:

Going into the final game of the tournament, with the third promotion place up for grabs, all eyes were on the five teams in contention. Fleetwood picked up a 1-1 draw with Wycombe, ending their hopes of promotion, along with Peterborough who were defeated by Portsmouth 3-2. Sunderland fell to a 1-0 defeat against promotion hopefuls Coventry, however the Black Cats secured top spot on goal difference despite Portsmouth winning. Oxford picked up a 1-0 win against Rotherham, however Coventry were promoted on goal difference, securing promotion.

The final table as shown below:

    P W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Sunderland 7 5 1 1 14 4 10 16
2 Portsmouth 7 5 1 1 12 8 4 16
3 Coventry 7 3 2 2 8 6 2 11
4 Oxford 7 3 2 2 7 8 -1 11
5 Fleetwood 7 2 1 4 11 12 -1 7
6 Rotherham 7 1 4 2 8 10 -2 7
7 Peterborough 7 1 3 3 11 14 -3 6
8 Wycombe 7 0 2 5 8 17 -9 2

In conclusion, Sunderland, Portsmouth and Coventry secured promotion to the Championship after finishing in the top three of the tournament. This is only a virtual simulation of the tournament, but is this how the final standings may have looked if the tournament was played in real life?