EFL confirms Leasing.com Trophy Final is effectively on hold

THE English Football League has confirmed the postponement of Portsmouth’s Leasing.com Trophy Final clash against Salford City due to take place on Sunday, April 5.

The EFL board met on Wednesday and reiterated that the health and well-being of staff, players, club employees and supporters would remain central to all decisions made in unprecedented circumstances.

League games have officially been postponed until April 3, but with the growing national measures being taken to address the coronavirus pandemic it appears unlikely football will restart in the near future.

Pompey have sold more than 50,000 tickets for the Wembley showpiece with the EFL keen to avoid the situation where many thousands of supporters were forced to change travel plans at late notice.

All ticket holders will be notified of the new date as soon as possible.

At the board meeting members also confirmed they still aim to deliver a successful completion to the 2019/20 season, subject to the over-riding priority around health and well-being.

Part of the statement issued by the EFL read: “Plans continue to be developed on the agreed principle that it is in the best interests of the EFL and clubs to complete the current season at the appropriate time.

“The EFL is continuing regular dialogue with the government and relevant health authorities and, as and when more information is known regarding the scale and extent of the coronavirus outbreak in this country, a decision will be taken on the resumption of the League’s fixtures.

“Conversations will continue with the EFL’s counterparts at the FA, the Premier League, the PFA and the LMA to ensure football achieves a joined-up and collaborative approach.”

On the financial implications of the shutdown, the statement continued: “As part of the League’s continued contingency planning, the board heard the comments and observations from EFL clubs, before discussing a number of issues including the current financial position and implications, insurance, regulatory matters and broadcasting arrangements.

“Discussions centred on financial relief for clubs in the short term and while there is no one single solution, measures are to be put in place to immediately assist with cash flow via a £50m short-term relief package.

“This fund consists of the remaining Basic Award payments being advanced to clubs immediately, with the remainder made up through an interest-free loan facility available to clubs, calculated in line with the EFL’s Article of Associations.The cash injection is included as part of a series of measures, that includes potential government support to help clubs and their associated businesses through this period of uncertainty.

“The EFL welcomes the announcement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and is continuing discussions to understand how our clubs can access the funding made available to support businesses. In addition, we will continue our discussions with our football partners to determine how we can all get through this difficult, challenging and unprecedented situation.”

On contingency planning the statement added: “The EFL, through a dedicated taskforce, continues to review the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on our clubs and competitions.

“Alongside ensuring the 2019/20 season reaches a successful conclusion, protecting the EFL and its clubs is a key priority for the EFL board, who have agreed on the following objectives to support future decision-making:

• Ensure the health and well-being of our clubs’ employees, supporters and communities
• Make a positive contribution to the UK’s efforts to tackle coronavirus
• Protect the EFL’s financial model and club finances
• Enable the EFL to continue to function as a business
• Deliver a successful conclusion to the 2019/20 season.”