English Football League 'needs 56 days to finish season'
LONDON - The English Football League's (EFL) chairman Rick Parry has told member clubs it needs about 56 days to complete the 2019-20 season and intends to conclude the campaign with the playoffs in all three divisions, British media reported on Thursday.
The EFL, which oversees the three divisions below the Premier League - the Championship, League One and League Two -, also said matches may be held without fans in attendance.
Professional football in England has been suspended until April 30, but the 71 EFL clubs have now been instructed by the league not to resume training until May 16 at the earliest, with the nation still in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Whenever the decision is taken that it's safe to resume, we currently estimate that the League will require approximately 56 days to complete the outstanding matches in the season (including playoffs)," EFL chairman Parry was quoted as saying in a letter published on The Daily Mail website.
"...we are in a position whereby the 2019-20 campaign will be extended, but still remain hopeful of a conclusion in the summer months.
"The EFL Board is currently working on the basis that the end-of-season playoffs will take place across all three divisions as normal... although no decision has been taken on the likely venue as it will depend on the circumstances at play at the time."
The playoff semi-finals are held over two legs on a home and away basis, with the finals usually staged at Wembley Stadium.
Clubs were also asked by the EFL in the letter to inform players they should take their annual leave now, while it will issue further updates on contracts and player registration.
World soccer's governing body FIFA this week recommended extending players' contracts which were due to end in June and said it would allow transfer windows to be moved to allow for extensions to the current European season.
More than 1.47 million people have been reported infected by the novel coronavirus across the world and 87 760 have died, according to a Reuters tally. The United Kingdom has over 60 700 confirmed cases and 7 097 deaths.Reuters