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EFL pledges to complete season - but Trophy final postponement suggests current suspension will be extended

PUBLISHED: 19:20 18 March 2020 | UPDATED: 19:20 18 March 2020

There will be no football until at least April 3 - but the postponement of the EFL Tropy final suggests a longer suspension amid the coronavirus pandemic

There will be no football until at least April 3 - but the postponement of the EFL Tropy final suggests a longer suspension amid the coronavirus pandemic

The EFL have tonight committed to finishing the current season – but postponed the EFL Tropy final, hinting that the existing suspension of football is likely to be extended past April 3.

All football has been suspended until at least that date as coronavirus sweeps the UK, with Ipswich Town currently set to resume their season at home to Southend on April 4.

But that looks highly unlikely given the scale of the restrictions being imposed in response to the virus. UEFA, who yesterday moved Euro 2020 back to 2021, have said leagues should aim to finish their seasons by June 30.

The EFL Board met this morning to discuss how to proceed, and insist they remain determined to complete the season.

However, the EFL Trophy final between Portsmouth and Salford, set for Sunday April 5 at Wembley, has been postponed - suggesting that the current suspension of football could well be extended.

The EFL said: “Over 50,000 tickets have been sold for the showpiece final, and the EFL does not want to be in a position whereby many thousands of supporters are forced to change their plans at late notice, so the decision has been taken in the best interest of all parties.”

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On finishing the season, the board said in a statement: “The primary objective, in order to protect competition integrity, is to deliver a successful conclusion to the 2019/20 season, subject to the over-riding priority around health and well-being. Plans continue to be developed on the agreed principle that it is in the best interests of the EFL and Clubs to complete the current season at the appropriate time.

“The EFL is continuing regular dialogue with the Government and relevant health authorities and, as and when more information is known regarding the scale and extent of the coronavirus outbreak in this country, a decision will be taken on the resumption of the League’s fixtures.”

Portman Road won't see any football until at least April 4Portman Road won't see any football until at least April 4

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In addition to the commitment to finishing the league season, the EFL are establishing a £50m fund to support clubs.

The statement explained: “As part of the League’s continued contingency planning, the Board heard the comments and observations from EFL Clubs, before discussing a number of issues including the current financial position and implications, insurance, regulatory matters and broadcasting arrangements.

“Discussions centred on financial relief for Clubs in the short term and while there is no one single solution, measures are to be put in place to immediately assist with cash flow via a £50million short-term relief package.

“This fund consists of the remaining Basic Award payments being advanced to Clubs immediately, with the remainder made up through interest-free loan facility available to Clubs, calculated in line with the EFL’s Article of Associations.”

EFL statement in full

The EFL Board met today to discuss the implications of the COVID-19 outbreak for the League and its Clubs.

After receiving a detailed brief on a number of matters, the Board reaffirmed that the health and well-being of EFL staff, players, Club employees and supporters would remain central to all decisions in these fast-changing circumstances.

The EFL Board also acknowledges the positive role that member Clubs are playing in community solidarity, especially in supporting the vulnerable at this time.

2019/20 SEASON SCHEDULE

The primary objective, in order to protect competition integrity, is to deliver a successful conclusion to the 2019/20 season, subject to the over-riding priority around health and well-being. Plans continue to be developed on the agreed principle that it is in the best interests of the EFL and Clubs to complete the current season at the appropriate time.

The EFL is continuing regular dialogue with the Government and relevant health authorities and, as and when more information is known regarding the scale and extent of the coronavirus outbreak in this country, a decision will be taken on the resumption of the League’s fixtures.

Conversations will continue with the EFL’s counterparts at the FA, the Premier League, the PFA and the LMA to ensure football achieves a joined-up and collaborative approach.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT

As part of the League’s continued contingency planning, the Board heard the comments and observations from EFL Clubs, before discussing a number of issues including the current financial position and implications, insurance, regulatory matters and broadcasting arrangements.

Discussions centred on financial relief for Clubs in the short term and while there is no one single solution, measures are to be put in place to immediately assist with cash flow via a £50million short-term relief package.

This fund consists of the remaining Basic Award payments being advanced to Clubs immediately, with the remainder made up through interest-free loan facility available to Clubs, calculated in line with the EFL’s Article of Associations.

The cash injection is included as part of a series of measures, that includes potential Government support to help Clubs and their associated businesses through this period of uncertainty. The EFL welcomes last night’s announcement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and is continuing discussions to understand how our Clubs can access the funding made available to support businesses.

In addition, we will continue our discussions with our football partners to determine how we can all get through this difficult, challenging and unprecedented situation.

CONTINGENCY PLANNING

The EFL, through a dedicated taskforce, continues to review the threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic, and its impact on our Clubs and competitions.

Alongside ensuring the 2019/20 season reaches a successful conclusion, protecting the EFL and its Clubs is a key priority for the EFL Board, who have today agreed on the following objectives to support future decision-making:

• Ensure the health and well-being of our Clubs’ employees, supporters and communities

• Make a positive contribution to the UK’s efforts to tackle coronavirus

• Protect the EFL’s financial model and Club finances

• Enable the EFL to continue to function as a business

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