Confirmed: League One season start and finish dates, play-off plans and details of fixture-release

Ipswich Town will once again be in League One next season. Picture: PA

Ipswich Town will once again be in League One next season. Picture: PA - Credit: Archant

The EFL have confirmed the 2020/21 League One season will kick-off on September 12.

The mid-September start date, as well as an August 29 alternative, have been discussed for several weeks before being confirmed today at an EFL meeting.

The season will finish on either May 8 or 9 with the play-offs to follow. The finals will revert to being played over the May Bank Holiday weekend.

The new dates mean the first three weeks of the new campaign are likely to be played behind-closed-doors, with fans allowed to return to stadiums in small numbers from the beginning of October.

At this stage Ipswich Town do not know how many fans will be permitted inside Portman Road once supporters are allowed to return, with each individual stadium assessed on its own merit rather than a blanket figure being applied.

It remains unclear how many games will be played in September prior to the return of supporters, but it’s likely each of the three weekends will host games. Returning to action on September 12 would mean Ipswich a gap of 189 days between competitive fixtures, with Town last playing on March 7 at home to Coventry before the full force of the coronavirus pandemic hit.

International fixtures are scheduled for September 5, with the possibility for the first round of the Carabao Cup to be played on that date.

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The Ipswich squad returned to training on Wednesday in socially distanced small groups, with the need for coronavirus testing removed for phase one of the return-to-training protocol.

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The Blues hope to move on to phase two of that protocol, allowing larger groups and closer contact training, in the near future. It is hoped the tasting requirements - currently at least twice a week – will be lessened for this stage in the near future.

As things stand the Blues have not announced any plans for pre-season matches, with seven weeks remaining until the season starts. It’s possible any games would be played at clubs’ training grounds, with discussions understood to have been held with a number of local EFL sides regarding warm-up games.

The field for next season’s League One is now complete, with Wigan, Charlton and Hull relegated from the Championship on Wednesday night. Swindon, Crewe, Plymouth and Northampton were promoted from League Two.

Next season’s fixture list is likely to be released in the middle of August.

LEAGUE ONE 2020/21

Relegated from Championship: Wigan Athletic, Charlton Athletic, Hull City.

Returning League One sides: Accrington Stanley, AFC Wimbledon, Blackpool, Bristol Rovers, Burton Albion, Doncaster Rovers, Fleetwood Town, Gillingham, Ipswich Town, Lincoln City, MK Dons, Oxford United, Peterborough United, Portsmouth, Rochdale, Shrewsbury Town, Sunderland.

Promoted from League Two: Swindon Town, Crewe Alexandra, Plymouth Argyle, Northampton Town