No training until May 16, games behind closed doors – the latest from the EFL on when Town’s season may start again

PUBLISHED: 17:13 09 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:13 09 April 2020

Ipswich Town's players aren't allowed to resume training until May 16 under new guidance from the EFL during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: PA SPORT

Ipswich Town's players aren't allowed to resume training until May 16 under new guidance from the EFL during the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: PA SPORT

PA Archive/PA Images

The football season can be completed in 56 days, according to the EFL - but players aren’t allowed to resume training until May 16.

Football has been suspended indefinitely during the coronavirus pandemic, with Ipswich Town having eight games left to play and sitting in tenth spot in League One.

Now EFL chairman Rick Parry has written to all 71 clubs with an update, saying the season can be completed in 56 days - but it is assumed that matches will be played behind closed doors.

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While Town’s players had been aiming at the end of April to return to training, Parry says that can’t happen until May 16.

The EFL is hopeful the season could finish in the summer, but there is still no indication of when it might start again.

Parry wrote: “Clubs should be advised not to recommence any training activity with players until May 16 at the earliest.

“Whenever the decision is taken that 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.

“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. Clearly, we are in a position whereby the 2019-20 campaign will be extended, but still remain hopeful of a conclusion in the summer months.”

He added:“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.”

The loss of matchday revenue has hit EFL clubs hard, and last week the Premier League advanced funds totalling £125million to the EFL and the National League to help clubs in financial trouble.

However, the EFL said in its letter that it would hold the money back for now, pending the outcome of separate talks between clubs and the Professional Footballers’ Association concerning player wage deferrals and cuts.

Parry said the reason for holding back the cash advance from the Premier League - which between the EFL and the National League came to a total of £125million - was to await the outcome of negotiations over player wage deferrals and cuts, with the money from the Premier League intended to cover 2020-21 costs.

He wrote: “In respect of the Premier League’s decision to advance £125m of funds to both the EFL and the National League, 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.”

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The letter also suggested the start of next season could be delayed.

“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,” it added.

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