THE Championship season is set to end in a state of considerable confusion, with a ruling on Wigan Athletic’s appeal against their 12-point deduction not expected ahead of the final round of matches on Wednesday night.

With the EFL also extremely unlikely to deliver a verdict on a possible points penalty for Sheffield Wednesday in the next two days, a number of the clubs involved in the relegation battle, which currently includes Middlesbrough, will find themselves heading into the summer uncertain of their future fate.

Boro can remove any uncertainty by winning at Hillsborough on Wednesday, and a draw will also guarantee the club’s survival given their vastly superior goal difference to Luton Town, who are currently two points below them in the final relegation slot.

However, if the Teessiders lose to Sheffield Wednesday and the results of the games involving Birmingham, Charlton and Luton all go against them, there is a scenario where Boro could finish the season in the bottom three.

They would be immediately moved out of the relegation zone when Wigan were docked 12 points for entering administration – a move the EFL have confirmed they will make as soon as the final whistles are blown on Wednesday night – but the Latics have lodged an appeal against their penalty.

That appeal is in the hands of an independent panel appointed by Sports Resolutions, the arbiters who ruled on a similar case involving Birmingham, with Wigan claiming their entry into administration was a ‘force majeure’ event caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The Latics are therefore arguing that the EFL’s current rules should not apply.

Boro boss Neil Warnock has called for a decision ahead of Wednesday’s game, but as the appeals process has now moved out of the EFL’s hands, the governing body are no longer responsible for setting a timetable. As a result, it is understood that there is little prospect of a verdict being delivered in the next two days.

“It’s to be hoped that everything can be put to bed by then,” said Warnock, in the wake of Boro’s weekend defeat to his former club, Cardiff City. “They (the EFL) must know how important the appeal is.

“They can’t just drag it on forever, can they? Hopefully, we’ll all have a decision on it by Wednesday. That’s what I’d like to happen, absolutely.”

Boro failed to take control of their own fate when they crashed to a 3-1 defeat on Saturday. The Teessiders defended abjectly as Josh Murphy scored two breakaway goals to add to Sean Morrison’s early header, and Warnock was unhappy with his side’s failings in their defensive third.

“I was disappointed with the result, although I wasn’t too disappointed with the performance,” he said. “I think it just showed up what we’ve known. At this level you’ve got to be able to mark at corners. We worked on it for most of the week, yet three or four minutes in, and it’s all gone out of the window.

“I thought they (Cardiff) were just a bit more professional in places, but we had five lads coming through the academy and I thought they were just a little bit young in certain areas.

“It would have been nice to get a goal at 2-0, but it wasn’t to be. The third goal came after that, and then Jonny (Howson) spoiled what I thought had been a decent performance by recklessly getting sent off like that.”

Howson’s red card means he will miss the trip to Hillsborough, but even though Adam Clayton was given permission to miss Saturday’s game, Warnock is confident the midfielder will be available if he wants him on Wednesday. Clayton’s current contract is due to expire next week, and he is not expected to be offered a new deal at the Riverside.

“I saw both Adam and Ravel (Morrison) and said to them that they needn’t be involved, but he (Clayton) would be available on Wednesday if I wanted him,” said Warnock. “He was doing something family-wise, and I said to him, ‘That’s okay’. But I think he’ll be available for Wednesday if I want him to be.

“We had a chat, and I decided it was okay for him to miss the game. His contract is up, and I’m sure it will be discussed with everybody else’s contracts who are up. Ravel’s deal is up as well, and I would imagine Neil (Bausor) and Steve (Gibson) will be talking during the weekend or next week, and decisions will have to be made.”