Clubs in the second to fourth tiers of English soccer should not return to training before May 25 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the English Football League (EFL) said on Wednesday.
The body, which governs the Championship, League One and League Two, met on Wednesday to address financial and operational matters resulting from COVID-19, adding that “the consequences of the pandemic will not be rectified simply by a return to play behind closed doors.”
“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,” it said in a statement.
“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.”
The novel coronavirus brought professional football across the country to a halt early in March, throwing the calendar into chaos and inflicting heavy financial losses on many clubs.
The EFL acknowledged action was needed to deal with the impact of the pandemic, which has also led to a year-long postponement of the Euro 2020 tournament and the Olympic Games.
“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 statement added.
“In addition, 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.”