EFL tells clubs no return to training before May 25

THE EFL has told clubs that the Spring Bank Holiday is the earliest possible date to consider a return to training during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Whilst rumours circulate regarding a possible cancellation of the League One season, the EFL board met on Wednesday to discuss the possibilities of how the 2019/20 campaign could be concluded.

Following the meeting, the EFL issued a statement which read: “While there is much debate and discussion taking place publicly and privately regarding what should, or could, happen next, the EFL will continue to undertake consultation with our members before the next steps are determined.

“Current attention is clearly on the immediate next steps, but the long-term impact on the League and its clubs remains as stark as previously outlined, and solutions are still required to fill the financial hole left by the crisis. The consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic will not be rectified simply by a return to play behind closed doors.”

The problem for clubs appers to be one of basic economics: playing football in empty stadiums is unsustainable for many in League One and League Two. If the season does resume in some shape, it will cost clubs to play football matches on top of the financial implications of regularly testing their players and staff for coronavirus.

Portsmouth were among the worst-hit clubs by coronavirus: five players tested positive for Covid-19, although none displayed serious symptoms.

The statement added: “The EFL is mindful of the pressing need for clarity in a number of areas, including the practicalities and timeframes of clubs being able to facilitate a return to training. To address this, clubs have today been issued with the latest draft of the EFL’s ‘Return to Training Protocols’, so that they can prepare appropriately.

“However, until all outstanding matters are concluded, including finalising a comprehensive testing programme on matchdays and non-matchdays, the EFL Board has informed its clubs that a return to training should not take place until 25 May at the earliest.

“Dialogue continues with our colleagues across the footballing and political landscape regarding these and other issues, and the EFL is committed to keeping all relevant parties updated on key decisions and developments as they occur.”