The Championship season is set to restart on June 20 following the coronavirus shutdown, the EFL has confirmed.
The plans are subject to government guidelines being met and strict safety measures will be in place, including matches being staged behind-closed-doors. Clubs will also need clearance from local authorities to hold matches at their home grounds.
The decision means the second-tier will restart just three days after the Premier League returns on June 17, with the EFL hoping to finish the season with the Play-off Final ‘on or around July 30’.
No Championship football has been played since Derby County’s 3-0 win over Blackburn Rovers on March 8, but teams returned to training earlier this week, initially using non-contact and small group sessions. All 24 teams in the league have played 37 games, meaning there are nine rounds of fixtures left to play and discussions are ongoing to ensure all 108 matches are made available to fans.
“Whilst matches will unfortunately have to take place without supporters, we are working with our broadcast partners, EFL Championship Clubs and all relevant stakeholders to broadcast the remaining 108 games plus Sky Bet Championship Play-Offs either live on Sky Sports, iFollow or a Club’s equivalent streaming service,” EFL Chair Rick Parry said.
“We must stress that at this stage the date is only provisional and will only be confirmed once we have met all the requirements, as the health, safety and well-being of all participants, staff and supporters remains our top priority.
“Clearly completing the season in a safe manner is going to require a significant effort by all concerned and, whilst not unprecedented, it will need Clubs to play a significant number of matches over a relatively short period of time.”
Leeds United are currently top of the division, a point clear of West Brom, who occupy the second automatic promotion spot and have a further six-point cushion to third-placed Fulham.
Brentford and Nottingham Forest look well set to reach the playoffs in fourth and fifth, but just three points separate Preston in sixth and Swansea in 11th. Meanwhile, Barnsley, Luton and Charlton currently fill the relegation zone.