Professional football is expected to return in the UK at some point this summer, and EFL chief Rick Parry has already documented his plans to complete the 2019/20 season by the end of August.
Parry has sent an email to chiefs of all clubs from the Championship to League Two level to outline how he believes the present campaign can be completed safely and fairly.
The dossier features a number of key points and confirms that once the action in given the green light by the government, the season can be completed in as quick a turnaround as 56 days – including the play-off games.
It’s great news for all involved in the fringes of the promotion and relegation battles in the Football League, as it will give them an opportunity to battle it out for points in what will surely be a frenetic end to the campaign.
The email included several other points of note, which include:
- Training will not be allowed to start until May 16 at the earliest
- Once approved by the government, all fixtures will be completed in 56 days
- All games will be played behind closed doors
- Play-offs will be scheduled as normal, with home and away legs for the semi-final and a final at Wembley
- A formal break before the 2020/21 season will be agreed at a later date
Interestingly, Parry has also recommended that all EFL clubs give their players complete downtime from now until May 16, which suggests this period will be treated as an extended break.
And that may mean that the 2020/21 campaign starts shortly after the end of this season, and potentially as early as September.
From a financial perspective, there were some items in Parry’s message that will have unsettled many clubs – particularly those in League One and Two who have real monetary concerns right now.
Parry says that clubs should be paying their players in full for March and April, despite the fact that they have no revenue from matchday sales.
And a further kick in the teeth comes with the news that Parry plans to delay the payment of the Premier League’s £125 million rescue package – for the time being, at least.
The reason for that is that the payout would actually go towards each team’s Financial Fair Play position, and so taking the cash could lead to some infringing FFP rules and facing potential fines, points deductions and worse.
All EFL clubs have a right to reply, and so it is possible that some of the points outlined above could be contested if there is a consensus that the head honcho is wide of the mark with his ideas.
The harsh reality is that some clubs will need emergency money immediately if they are to survive into the 2020/21 season, a fate confirmed by Walsall chief Leigh Pomlett. When asked if bankruptcy was a possibility for lower league clubs, he said:
“I don’t know, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised. It doesn’t take long for a business to get into a cash spiral decline.
“When it does, it’s almost impossible to get out of it. So I wouldn’t be surprised and I wouldn’t be complacent about any club.
“Some are in pretty difficult situations as it is.”