The EFL has this afternoon written to all its clubs telling them to be “as prepared as possible for a start at relatively short notice”.
Rick Parry – the EFL chairman – issued an open letter to all supporters of clubs within the EFL on Friday morning informing them of the league’s behind closed doors plan.
The Covid-19 pandemic has brought English football to halt, with the EFL and the Premier League indefinitely suspended until further notice.
Parry told supporters that progress has been made on player wage cuts and deferrals, and the EFL’s intention remains to complete the 2019-20 season.
While the former Liverpool chief also revealed that matches will be streamed live for fans to watch due to the action returning behind closed doors.
And now in a new letter to its clubs, the EFL have also recommended that sides don’t return to training until May 16 at the earliest, due to the backlash any such move would have on clubs.
“As advised last week, a recommended return-to-training date of 16 May at the earliest is still in place,” the letter read.
“We are conscious of the issues facing Clubs wanting to provide their staff and players clarity around preparing for a return to “work”, though we should all remember if you are tempted to reconvene squads or groups of players that social distancing measures as per UK Government advice remains in place.
“The EFL, through its Regulations, does not have the power to enforce Clubs to cease its training activities but you should all consider any potential negative perception you may receive through the court of public opinion if you choose to engage whilst the country remains in lockdown.
“By advising on mid-May return to training it has inevitably led to speculation that the season will recommence on 6 June – three weeks later. No date has been discussed and we continue to work with the Government and agile enough to allow us to be as prepared as possible for a start at relatively short notice. “
“We continue to monitor developments in other European Leagues, particularly those who are returning to training and this is providing us with some useful intelligence based on the medical and scientific advice pertaining to their respective country.”
Stoke City were 17th, with nine games to play, when the season was suspended on March 13.