Football League clubs have been advised by the EFL to give their players a holiday and not return to training until 16 May at the earliest, with the aim of restarting the season in June and completing the outstanding 113 fixtures, including play-offs, across 56 days.
The plan was outlined by the the league’s chairman, Rick Parry, in a letter to clubs following an EFL board meeting on Wednesday. The caveat is that the EFL will continue to listen to government advice, which could scupper the proposals.
In the letter Parry advised Championship, League One and League Two clubs not to return to training until mid-May, acknowledging they are dealing with “testing circumstances”. The letter was designed to provide clubs with some clarity amid the coronavirus pandemic. EFL matches are postponed indefinitely and are expected to return behind closed doors.
Parry said: “Whenever the decision is taken that it is safe to resume, we currently estimate that the League will require approximately 56 days to complete the outstanding matches in the season [including play-offs] and we are committed to ensuring that clubs are provided an appropriate notice period to ensure you are able to prepare operationally given the scale and impact of the postponements in place.”
The EFL said it hoped two-leg play-off semi-finals would be played as normal but no decision had been taken on the venue of the finals. The Championship final expected to take place before the other two, and the league is confident the second-tier season could be completed inside 50 days. “No decision has been taken on the likely venue as it will depend on the circumstances at play at the time,” Parry said.
In the letter Parry also said that the £125m advance payment to member clubs from the Premier League had been delayed while the EFL board awaits clarity regarding player wages, with discussions between the Professional Footballers’ Association, clubs and football bodies ongoing. “The EFL board has taken the decision to put on hold the forwarding of advanced monies while additional clarity is sought on other financial matters, particularly in respect to player wages,” he wrote.