The English Football League have confirmed talks are still ongoing with the Premier League and other stakeholders about promotion and relegation in the 2019/20 season.
The EFL again reiterated their stance that the season must be completed but only when it is safe to do so, working alongside government’s rules and regulations.
However, after the Dutch FA confirmed there would be no promotion, relegation or title winner from the Eredivisie this season, the EFL have reiterated that plans are still being discussed with the Premier League and the FA.
The league board say they have received “a variety of proposals” but add “it is important to emphasise that there is a range of opinion among our membership”.
Stoke City have been hauled from the foot of the Championship by Michael O’Neill over the winter and now sit 17th, their highest position of the season – if still only three points clear of the bottom three.
A statement on Saturday read: “The EFL notes this morning’s newspaper reports in respect of the potential resumption of professional football matches in England and Wales and welcomes the current steps being taken by the UK Government to establish a group of governing bodies to look at the complex set of challenges facing the wider sporting industry.
“The position of the EFL remains unchanged in that the priority is to resume the 2019/20 season as soon as it is possible with matches only returning at an appropriate point and based on guidance from the relevant authorities. The health and well-being of the nation has to come first.
“However, it is also our view that a successful return to playing in this country can only come about through a continued collaborative approach with all stakeholders, including the Premier League and Football Association, in order for important issues to be aligned such as, but not limited to, scheduling of fixtures, promotion, relegation and the opening and closing of transfer windows. This work has been ongoing for some time and will continue in the weeks ahead.
“Clearly, before any return to football can take place, suitable testing arrangements for participants must be in place and this is core to our current planning, as is ensuring there is absolutely no negative impact on the country’s front-line workers, the emergency services, League and club staff members.
“The EFL’s medical advisor is working with a select group of medical professionals and sports scientists to ensure their collective expertise is utilised to address these issues. This group will consider the latest medical information and evidence from both in the UK and abroad, particularly around the viability and accessibility of the various COVID-19 tests that are currently available.
“As part of our work to address the broader challenges posed by COVID-19, the EFL will continue to engage in dialogue with the Government, football partners, member clubs and other relevant stakeholders about the evolving situation.
“At this time our operational mitigation and scenario planning is continuing so that when it is appropriate and safe for football to return at EFL clubs up and down the country, we can make the necessary determinations quickly and with some clarity. This work includes the relevant protocols for playing behind closed doors at all 71 clubs and access to those matches for our broadcast partners and supporters.
“In consideration of the current challenges, a variety of proposals and ideas have also been put forward by EFL clubs in relation to operational and financial matters. While these contributions are welcome, it is important to emphasise that there is a range of opinion among our membership and that no decisions have been taken at this stage.
“In addition, the EFL board is also consulting with member clubs about potential changes to financial regulations with the aim of improving the current position. These discussions follow on from the reviews of divisional cost control measures that were already underway at the start of the outbreak.
“The EFL board will continue to lead dialogue with members via divisional representatives on all EFL matters to ensure any future decisions are reflective of the collective position and in the interests of the League and football as a whole.”