‘Impression I got was season would start on August 29 or September 12’ – MacAnthony gives EFL meeting insight

Peterborough co-owner Darragh MacAnthony. Photo: PA

Peterborough co-owner Darragh MacAnthony. Photo: PA - Credit: PA

Peterborough United co-owner Darragh MacAnthony has provided some insight into the latest EFL meeting, saying he believes the League One season will start on September 12.

League One football was suspended in early March due to the coronavirus crisis and, after much procrastination, curtailed on June 9 following a vote by clubs – the final standings settled on a points per game model.

There was a split in opinions throughout third-tier clubs surrounding ‘Project Restart’ and there will be again regarding when to begin the 2020/21 campaign.

Ipswich Town are among the clubs who want to get started again as soon as possible, but it’s understood that many others would rather keep football in hibernation until all restrictions on crowds are lifted.

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Speaking on his podcast ‘Hard Truths’, MacAnthony said: “I did ask Rick Parry (EFL chairman) if he was going to take the bull by the horns and announce a start date and issue the first set of fixtures rather than have another vote among clubs.

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“And the impression I got from the meeting was that the season would start on August 29 or September 12 and if I was a betting man I would guess the date in September.

“There were a couple of the usual dissenting voices who don’t want to play until crowds come back, but they were told the TV deals would be in jeopardy. I understand where those chairmen were coming from, but it’s time to get the party started again and do what we are all paid to do and that’s play football.

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“The EFL are working on getting some sort of crowd into grounds for when we start. It could be between 20-25% of capacity to start, but I reckon we could get up to 35-40% quickly and then 100% by January as there has been better news on the virus front.”

Speaking to the EADT and Ipswich Star, Blues’ general manager of football operations said: “The R rate has come down, we’re seeing games on television and, from our point of view, everybody is itching to get back going again. We’ve always said we want to play as soon as it’s safe to do so.

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“We have everything in place and are ready. If we got the phone call today and was asked ‘are you ready to go for late August to mid-September – which are the dates being mentioned – then we’d be saying ‘absolutely, let’s go’.

“I can understand that several clubs in our league aren’t going to share that opinion though. Some are very reliant on the government furlough scheme (which runs until the end of October) and will want to get the most out of that.

“I think (Covid-19) testing is going to be a major issue. It’s £125 a test. If you’re talking about having to test 30-40 people twice a week then that’s £30-40k a month. And at the moment that’s something the clubs will have to pay for.”

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