Evans hoping for Play Off spot
Evans hoping for Play Off spot

Gillingham boss Steve Evans has been talking to KSN about the possibility being discussed by the EFL of expanding the League One Play Offs as well as the return of football to our television screens…

“I watched the German football last weekend, as we all did,” the Gills boss told us and then admitted, “but because I haven’t got an affinity with any of those clubs, I have to admit that I did find it a bit strange – a bit surreal if you like; there’s no atmosphere – the lack of it – probably played a part in players not going full throttle!”

“But saying that, it was the first game back, but what I would say is that I watched on the news later footage of the Dortmund fans either at home or in a bar doing their social distancing but watching their team, and they were very much into it.”

“So I equated to myself if Gillingham’s playing around the country there wouldn’t be a lot of interest, but if we were in a Play Off scenario, I suggest that the whole of Kent would be looking at it and looking forward to watching it, and getting excited.”

“So, it’s great to see the ball on the grass again, and we’re hopefully getting nearer to the day when we can do that ourselves!”

Our attention then turned back to the ending of the League One season. “The first thing you have to do is to conclude any League table is to do a points per game average if you’re not going to play those games and the League table is what it is.”

“So that would mean that if that happens, we will finish in the top ten,” the Gills boss said.

He went on, “You cannot get in the top ten by the size of your fan-base. You don’t get in the top ten by people thinking around the country “well they’re a big club, let them play.” This isn’t about size, it’s just about points accrual for an equal amount of games – I’m more than hopeful that when the points per game average is added to the table and we’re in the top ten and therefore if it is down to the top ten, then we’ll be involved in it!”

“I think it’s very close – there is no doubt that my old boss at Peterborough has been very vocal and is up for it as they should be with that squad, and you’re looking at Joey Barton at Fleetwood and his Chairman, they’re well up for it; Portsmouth are; Karl Robinson is at Oxford because it’s a chance for promotion and because the table is so tight in fairness to them (the EFL), they were the ones who suggested that anyone with a mathematical chance should be in that equation.”

“And therefore, we’ve very much got a mathematical chance, and I base that simply on we win our first game back, a couple in the top six lose and suddenly we’re five points behind with eight games left – WOW!”

“We’re very much involved in it – there have been lots of comments – top ten; top ten points per average, we’re in it and no thoughts of anything else!”

This week former Gills favourite Steve Bruce has aired a view that we could still be up to six weeks away from a return to the Premier League – not necessarily a view that the Gills boss agrees with.

He said, “They’ve different benchmarks and different standards in the Premier League and I’m never going to question the words of Steve Bruce, who is a good personal friend of mine!”

“But what I would say is that we don’t need six weeks – I can only talk for us and we’ll be ready in two (weeks) if we have to be, ideally three, and if we started on Monday and the Football League said that the first leg of your fixture “you’re at home to whoever first” because of being the lower rank team, then it’s straight forward to be going two weeks on Saturday – or another week as in three weeks, we’d be more than ready!”

“The boys are all incredibly fit; we’ll get them in in two groups and do some sharp work with them, we’ll get them on the balls, and by the end of that week, we’ll be playing forty-five minutes. And then into the following week, we’ll be playing sixty and ninety minutes and if we get another week, we can sharpen it all up!”

“We can go in two if the timescale demands, but we shouldn’t be in any rush. We have to be done by the end of July and I accept that we have to meet that as there are 1,400 players or whatever it is out of contract so we’ve got time if we’re back next week – any time next week we’ve got time to complete the process…”

“The (testing) mandate from the Football League is that all players and staff around them will be tested twice a week – it’s a big cost of something like one hundred and fifty thousand pounds per club to do that – and that is probably where the vote to continue splits in League One.”

“If you’ve got nothing to play for or you’re already relegated, you’re thinking “do I want a portion of our money going in that ten clubs who are going to be tested?” and probably the answer will be no, and this is always the difficulty for the Football League – it’s seventy-two member clubs, and in League One, every single club has an equal vote and equal say, and it goes by the majority.”

“So, the health and welfare of every player, not just Gillingham Football Club players, but any player anywhere in the World is of paramount importance and that’s why it will be in a strict basis of a full testing programme.”