By Andrew Atkinson
The English Football League is set to resume on June 20 following a meeting that agreed to a provisional restart date after football’s COVID-19 lockdown in March.
The Sky Bet 2019-20 Championship return is subject to health and safety guidelines and under Government guidance, along with clearance from the relevant clubs’ local authorities to stage matches at their home grounds.
Championship clubs returned to training on May 25, with a number of players in isolation after testing positive for coronavirus after undergoing mandatory tests.
The Championship return follows the Premier League return, in a bid to complete fixtures to avoid any potential issues with promoted and relegated clubs.
The season is set to conclude, with the Championship Play-Off Final on or around July 30. Final details are still to be confirmed following further discussions with the League’s Broadcast partner, Sky Sports.
The EFL discussions included an agreement to consider changing regulations, to permit the use of five substitutes in the remaining fixtures and, also increasing the matchday squad, from 18 to 20 players. Discussions will continue with Championship Clubs on this front.
EFL Chair Rick Parry said: “With Sky Bet Championship Clubs set to return to full contact training and following the Government announcement, we are edging closer towards resuming the 2019/20 EFL season.
“We have therefore consulted with the Board’s Championship Directors and agreed to fixtures restarting behind closed doors on June 20.
“Whilst matches will unfortunately have to take place without supporters, we are working with our broadcast partners, EFL Championship Clubs and all relevant stakeholders to broadcast the remaining 108 games plus Sky Bet Championship Play-Offs either live on Sky Sports, iFollow or a Club’s equivalent streaming service.
“We must stress that at this stage the date is only provisional and will only be confirmed, once we have met all the requirements, as the health, safety and well-being of all participants, staff and supporters remains our top priority.
“Clearly completing the season in a safe manner is going to require a significant effort by all concerned and, whilst not unprecedented, it will need clubs to play a significant number of matches over a relatively short period of time.”