Championship season set to restart on 20 June as coronavirus lockdown eases

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The Championship season is set to resume on 20 June, more than three months after it was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The EFL said the date was “provisional” and “subject to the strict proviso that all safety requirements and government guidance is met”.

There are 108 matches remaining, plus the play-off semi-finals and final.

No Championship fixtures have been played since 8 March, with the campaign suspended five days later.

The EFL said it is aiming to complete the Championship season with the play-off final “on or around 30 July”, adding that there would be ongoing discussions on proposals to permit the use of five substitutes in the remaining fixtures and increasing matchday squads from 18 to 20 players.

The announcement comes a day after the UK government gave the green light for domestic competitive sport to return, behind closed doors, from Monday.

Horse racing and snooker will each resume competitive action on Monday, while the Premier League is due to restart on 17 June.

“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,” an EFL statement read.

“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.”

Players have been back in training since 25 May, initially while following social distancing guidelines, and full contact training will begin next week.

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 wellbeing of all participants, staff, and supporters remain 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.”

Parry added that the EFL was in talks about broadcasting the remaining 108 games and play-offs either live on Sky Sports or via streaming services.

Three rounds of coronavirus testing have been conducted to date across the 24 clubs in the second tier, with more than 1,000 tests carried out each time.

Two people at Hull City tested positive in the first round, while two unnamed Fulham players and Blackburn captain Elliott Bennett tested positive in the second round of results.

Preston North End striker Jayden Stockley was one of 10 positive Covid-19 tests across eight Championship clubs in the latest round of testing, revealed on Saturday.

When the season was paused, Leeds United were top of the table, one point clear of second-placed West Bromwich Albion.

Fulham, Brentford, Nottingham Forest and Preston North End occupy the four play-off spots, while Barnsley, Luton Town and Charlton Athletic are in the relegation zone.

Timeline: How did we get to this point?

  • 8 March – Last games played in the Championship
  • 13 March – EFL suspended until at least 3 April
  • 19 March – Suspension extended until end of April
  • 26 March – All football below National League expunged
  • 22 April – National League clubs vote to end regular season
  • 15 May – League Two season ended, League One undecided
  • 25 May – Championship teams return to training
Source: BBC
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