LONDON: The English Football League has approved a restart for the Championship – the effective second division – to return on the weekend of June 20, subject to all safety requirements and Government guidance being met.
The Premier League announced on Thursday that play is due to return on June 17 following the coronavirus suspension that began in mid-March.
The EFL followed suit on Sunday evening, announcing that the Championship is set to restart around the same time.
In a statement, the EFL said: “Following Saturday’s announcement by the Government to allow elite sporting events to return behind closed doors, the EFL has this weekend agreed to a provisional restart date of the weekend of 20 June 2020 for matches in the Sky Bet Championship.
“The date is subject to the strict proviso that all safety requirements and Government guidance is met; and that clubs receive clearance from their local authorities in order to stage matches at their home grounds.
“After discussing various approaches, and, the importance of completing the season in a similar timeline to that of the Premier League to avoid any potential issues with promoted and relegated clubs, the Sky Bet Championship season is set to conclude with the Championship play-off final on or around 30 July 2020.
“Final details are still to be confirmed following further discussions with the League’s Broadcast partner, Sky Sports.”
The EFL also revealed that it will consider the use of five substitutes in the remaining fixtures and increasing the matchday squad from 18 to 20 players, with discussions “to continue with Championship clubs in this respect”.
The schedule, broadcast selection and streaming availability will follow, with EFL chair Rick Parry pleased to be able to welcome back the Championship.
“With Sky Bet Championship clubs set to return to full contact training later this week and following Saturday’s Government announcement, we are edging closer towards resuming the 2019/20 EFL season,” he said.
“We have therefore today consulted with the board’s Championship directors and agreed to fixtures restarting behind closed doors on 20 June.
“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.
“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.”