Football League clubs recommended to return to training in mid-May amid coronavirus lockdown

The English Football League has advised clubs to return to training next month and be prepared for the resumption of the 2019/20 season ‘at relatively short notice’, The Independent can reveal.

The EFL chairman Rick Parry issued an open-letter to fans on Friday detailing their plan to stage matches behind closed doors once the coronavirus pandemic eases, with talks underway to broadcast all games across the Championship, League One and League Two on television or online.

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And, in a letter sent to all 72 clubs seen by The Independent, the EFL has detailed a plan first communicated last week for players to return to training on 16 May, should the level of lockdown be eased next month.

The letter also addresses a rumoured restart date among clubs of 6 June, which would give players three weeks to regain match fitness, but the EFL has stressed that no talks have taken place whatsoever over an official start date,

Instead, the EFL has told clubs to be prepared to return to action ‘at relatively short notice’, and the idea of a three-week mini-pre-season has not been dismissed.

While it is also acknowledged that clubs do not have to adhere to the EFL’s recommendation, it is stressed that they should consider the ‘potential negative perception’ that will spread among the public if clubs elect to resume training while the nation remains in lockdown.

The EFL is also closely monitoring the Bundesliga where clubs have returned to training this week, and is obtaining ‘medical and scientific advice’ on how those return-to-work plans are impacting on the spread of Covid-19.

The move will also be discussed by the Premier League on Friday when a videoconference involving all 20 clubs takes place to discuss the latest plans over restarting the season, with football across the top four professional leagues likely to resume in similar circumstances. It appears highly likely that the Premier League will follow suit and stage all games behind closed doors when they do resume.

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