THE English Football League has written to all clubs to estimate the current season can be completed in 56 days when the professional game resumes.
The planned April 30 restart date will be extended, with EFL chairman Rick Parry insisting no training should resume until at least May 16.
The impact of Covid-19 has been severe on Portsmouth with five players hit by the virus: all displaying only minor symptoms and all recovering.
Any resumption of the football season, however, is on the basis that matches will be played behind closed doors, with the EFL hopeful the campaign can finish in the summer.
Most clubs in League One have either nine or ten games remaining. If the campaign had carried on as normal, the remaining fixtures would have been completed in 72 days up until the play-off final on May 24.
The EFL estimates it can now finish all matches within two months, including the play-offs.
“How and when we return (including training) is clearly subject to change and any decisions will be taken in conjunction with the government and relevant health authorities,” the letter read.
“It is our working assumption at this stage that matches will be played behind closed doors when we eventually return and, as part of our contingency planning, we are absolutely mindful of the need to try and mitigate the cost of this to clubs as best we can.”
Several sides have already put players and staff on furlough or temporary leave. However, a £125m advance from the Premier League to the EFL and National League will not be distributed “while additional clarity is sought on other financial matters, particularly in respect to player wages”.
The impact on next season is also addressed with the start of the 2020/21 campaign sure to be delayed.
The letter continued: “Looking more long-term, the EFL must remain mindful of the implications that the extension of this season may have on the commencement of the 2020-21 campaign, although we will ensure there is a suitable break between the two, so as to allow clubs and staff sufficient time to regroup and prepare accordingly.
“I think there will be a sigh of relief as and when we reach that point, and what is clear right now is that Covid-19 continues to present hugely challenging and uncertain times for everyone, and our thoughts are with all those directly affected by the pandemic.”
• Portsmouth have confirmed that essential work on the North Stand has begun. The development involves a completely new roof and cladding system, along with essential beam and associated works.