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EFL STATEMENT | CORONAVIRUS

Clubs vote to curtail League 2 campaign

1 April 2020

ALL UPDATES FROM THE EFL WILL BE KEPT IN A THREAD BELOW IN ORDER OF OLDEST TO MOST RECENT

In light of overnight developments, the EFL Board has met this morning to discuss the ever-changing circumstances posed by the spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Having considered the increased number of cases affecting Club Players and staff, the Board were unanimous in their approach and it has been determined that all football activity scheduled to take place this weekend and until April 3 2020 will be postponed.

For the avoidance of any doubt this includes all matches in the Championship, League One and League Two, as well as all Academy and youth team fixtures and will take us beyond the next international round.

The arrangement of training programmes for professional players in the interim period remains a matter for each individual Club and we advise all Academy training is suspended until April 3 2020.

In addition to this the League instructs all Clubs to suspend indefinitely all non-essential business which include, but are not limited to, player appearances, commercial activities training ground visits and fan meetings.

We also advise that Club Community Organisations cease their activities until April 3 2020.

I have also had the opportunity this morning to discuss the position with my counterparts at the FA and Premier League and we are all aligned on this difficult decision.

Whilst the EFL Board has continued to take the advice and guidance offered of the government and its health advisors, emerging developments mean now is the time to press pause and take stock to enable the EFL, together with our Premier League and FA colleagues, to implement our contingency plans, which have been in preparation for a period of time.

A further update will be provided to Clubs post an EFL Board Meeting next week.

UPDATE 16/03/20: 

The health and well-being of EFL staff, players, Club employees and supporters is of paramount importance and will be key to the decisions made by football during what is clearly an unprecedented situation facing our game. 

It is with that in the forefront of the League’s mind that it notes the intense speculation that has appeared across the local, national and international media over the weekend. 

Whilst the League and its Board understand there is a strong desire from both the media and general public to understand what may happen next, there have, at this current time, been no decisions taken. 

The League also feels it inappropriate to respond to the many hypothetical solutions being suggested whilst the many unknowns remain. Given the fast paced environment and parameters we are currently working within, it is simply not practical to give a running commentary on what may happen. 

In the immediate short term we will continue with our contingency planning to deal with the implications the outbreak of Covid-19 has presented the EFL and its Clubs, in addition to liaising with the Government, health authorities and football partners. 

A further update will be given once the EFL Board has met this week. 

In the meantime, we wish the football and wider community well and urge all to follow the guidance from the Government provided by Public Health England if presented with any symptoms - https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

EFL Chair, Rick Parry, said: “These are indeed challenging times for the League, its Clubs and the game as a whole. However, now is the time for cool heads and calm reflection, rather than speculation as we look to steer our competitions and Clubs through this period of uncertainty.”

UPDATE 19/03/20

The FA, Premier League, EFL and women’s professional game, together with the PFA and LMA understand we are in unprecedented times and our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19.

We are united in our commitment to finding ways of resuming the 2019/20 football season and ensuring all domestic and European club league and cup matches are played as soon as it is safe and possible to do so.

We have collectively supported UEFA in postponing EURO 2020 to create space in the calendar to ensure domestic and European club league and cup matches have an increased opportunity to be played and, in doing so, maintain the integrity of each competition.

The FA’s Rules and Regulations state that “the season shall terminate not later than the 1 June” and “each competition shall, within the limit laid down by The FA, determine the length of its own playing season”. However, The FA’s Board has agreed for this limit to be extended indefinitely for the 2019/20 season in relation to Professional Football. Additionally, we have collectively agreed that the professional game in England will be further postponed until no earlier than 30 April.

The progress of COVID-19 remains unclear and we can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority. We will continue to follow Government advice and work collaboratively to keep the situation under review and explore all options available to find ways of resuming the season when the conditions allow.

We would all like to re-emphasise that our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19.

UPDATE 27/03/20

The Premier League, EFL and PFA met today and discussed the growing seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was stressed that the thoughts of all three organisations continue to be with everyone affected by the virus.

The Premier League, EFL and PFA agreed that difficult decisions will have to be taken in order to mitigate the economic impact of the current suspension of professional football in England and agreed to work together to arrive at shared solutions.

The leagues will not recommence until 30 April at the earliest. They will only do so when it is safe and conditions allow.

Further meetings will take place next week with a view to formulating a joint plan to deal with the difficult circumstances facing the leagues, their Clubs, players, staff and fans.

UPDATE 1/4/20

WE CAN ALL PLAY OUR PART

COVID-19 has presented a hugely challenging and uncertain time for everyone and our thoughts are with all those directly affected by the pandemic. The Government’s message is clear - stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.

We are all committed to getting back to playing the game we love - but only when it is safe to do so. Amid the current uncertainty, supporters will understandably have a number of questions relating to the season and the clubs they follow, and there are no quick answers to how and when we will return to what used to be our football normality.

The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA), the EFL, Premier League and The FA want to reiterate that clubs and their supporters have a vital role to play in supporting the Government’s guidance and ensuring community strength and solidarity. While there is no football, our sport can still play its part.

Clubs and supporters have responded magnificently with staff, fans and volunteers supporting those most in need in their local towns and cities. Fans can keep up to date with how the Premier League and EFL clubs are providing wide-ranging support for their communities, including the provision of facilities for medical use and accommodation for NHS staff. Clubs are also supporting foodbanks, transporting medicines and food and telephoning the most vulnerable members of society. 

Many supporters’ groups across the country have also shown just how valuable they are. We have seen official supporters’ trusts raising tens of thousands of pounds in their local communities, donating to local foodbanks, delivering care packages and helping NHS staff. Read more about the great work undertaken here.

The work of clubs, staff, volunteers and fans is making a difference to those in need. The FSA, EFL, Premier League and The FA encourage all Clubs and supporters’ groups to remain in contact during this difficult time and, where possible, support one another in their community efforts. We also extend our gratitude to those football supporters who are key workers, and those who have offered their support on a volunteer basis.

We urge fans across the country to follow the ongoing Government advice, to provide us all with the best opportunity to keep fans and communities safe. 

It is also important to note that any official communications will come from the Government and football authorities themselves. Please follow our official channels for this information. 

As the situation is regularly changing, the Premier League, EFL and The FA will continue to consult the FSA and keep supporters updated on the progress made as soon as is practically possible.

Thank you, once again, for your continued patience, work and support.

UPDATE 1/4/20

Senior representatives from the PFA, Premier League, EFL and LMA met today and shared a constructive meeting regarding the challenges facing the game as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The meeting reiterated that the overriding priority is the health and well-being of the nation - including that of players, coaches, managers, club staff and supporters – and everyone agreed football must only return when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

No decisions were taken today with discussions set to continue in the next 48 hours with a focus on several high-profile matters, including player wages and the resumption of the 2019/20 season.

UPDATE 3/4/20

As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the EFL, Premier League, FA and Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship has today collectively agreed to postpone its football competitions until it is safe to resume.

Football is committed in supporting the Government’s efforts in tackling the COVID-19 outbreak and the staging of football matches in this country. It is clearly something that simply cannot happen at this time. The thoughts of everyone associated with the EFL and its member Clubs are with anyone currently affected by the Coronavirus.

The situation will be kept under constant review with matches only returning at an appropriate point and based on the latest guidance provided by the relevant Government departments and health authorities.

The EFL also notes and appreciates the decision taken today by the Premier League in respect of the short term financial relief it is to provide EFL Clubs through the advancement of solidarity payments, parachute payments and Academy Grants. These actions will have a positive impact on individual Clubs across our three divisions at a difficult and uncertain time.

UPDATE 15/4/20

The EFL has continued to hold constructive discussions over the Easter weekend with representatives of the PFA in respect of the issues created by the COVID-19 crisis, with a particular focus on Clubs in League One and League Two. In addition, the EFL held further talks with Clubs from those divisions at the end of last week.

The EFL and member Clubs recognise that each Club will hold individual discussions with players and that agreements will be reached at a local level. At the same time, Clubs in League One and League Two have acknowledged the strength of a collective approach to support and inform their decisions.

As a result of these discussions, it has been agreed that the EFL and PFA will form a working group of six Club captains/PFA delegates from League One and Two, supported by a representative nominated by the PFA, to engage in dialogue in respect of players’ wages. While the working group will not be a formal negotiating body, it will help to ensure that players are fully informed as they continue to hold discussions with individual Clubs.

In establishing the new group, the EFL and PFA acknowledge the common problems faced by the League and member Clubs, and the need for all parties to be part of a solution.  Dialogue with the working group will enable the League both to listen to the concerns of players and to explain the extent of the financial challenges. It will focus not just on the short term (May and June) but will address the medium-term position from the start of July onwards and into next season.

In order to deal with the most immediate payroll issue, the EFL is recommending to Clubs that local discussions are held with players in respect of the month of April only. A compromise proposal has been agreed between the EFL and the PFA for those Clubs engaged in deferral negotiations with their players, meaning that, up to a maximum of 25% of players’ wages for April may be conditionally deferred within the following limits:

  • Players earning less than £2,500 per month will be paid in full
  • the 25% reduction must not take any player below £2,500 per month.

This is a recommendation and not a directive as there are Clubs who have stated no requirement to take immediate action at this time.

Further conditions may be agreed at a local level through discussions between individual Clubs and players.

The current position in respect of the Championship is that Clubs last week agreed to conduct wage negotiations with players at a local level, while making financial information available to support their position.  A number of Championship Clubs have concluded agreements with players and others will be holding discussions this week.

UPDATE 13/5/20

The EFL Board has met today to further consider the many complex financial and operational matters resulting out of the COVID-19 crisis, including how the 2019/20 campaign is concluded.

While there is much debate and discussion taking place publicly and privately regarding what should, or could, happen next, the EFL will continue to undertake consultation with our members before the next steps are determined.

Current attention is clearly on the immediate next steps, but the long-term impact on the League and its Clubs remains as stark as previously outlined, and solutions are still required to fill the financial hole left by the crisis. The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic will not be rectified simply by a return to play behind closed doors.

In addition, the EFL is mindful of the pressing need for clarity in a number of areas, including the practicalities and timeframes of Clubs being able to facilitate a return to training. To address this, Clubs have today been issued with the latest draft of the EFL’s ‘Return to Training Protocols’, so that they can prepare appropriately.

However, until all outstanding matters are concluded, including finalising a comprehensive testing programme on matchdays and non-matchdays, the EFL Board has informed its Clubs that a return to training should not take place until 25 May at the earliest.

Dialogue continues with our colleagues across the footballing and political landscape regarding these and other issues, and the EFL is committed to keeping all relevant parties updated on key decisions and developments as they occur.

UPDATE 15/5/20

Representatives of League One and League Two Clubs have met today by division where they have shared a wide range of comprehensive views in respect of how the 2019/20 season is concluded.

The rationale for playing the remaining matches has been fully debated with a particular focus on the issues COVID-19 has created in respect of health and wellbeing, ongoing testing requirements, player registration issues and the financial burdens Clubs already face at this difficult time.

In the event of a curtailment of the season, the EFL Board outlined how this could be addressed through a framework that includes maintaining the principle of promotion and relegation, league tables to be determined via unweighted points per game (PPG) and Play-Offs to remain in every division to determine the final promotion place.

The EFL Board, whose aspiration has always been to conclude the 2019/20 season by completing the remaining fixtures, has previously stated that any decision on how to conclude the season is a matter for Clubs to determine in their respective divisions and, as a result of today’s discussions, the following update can be provided: 

League Two

Having considered the protocols and costs that would be required to be met to conclude the current season, League Two Clubs have unanimously indicated a preferred direction of travel to curtail the campaign in line with the framework outlined by the EFL Board.

In addition, Clubs asked for consideration to be given to suspending relegation to the National League for 2019/20 as a result of circumstances created where fixtures cannot be completed.  No commitments were made in this respect and the Board will now consider the implications of the division’s preferred approach at their next meeting.

League One

There were varied views shared in League One and it was determined that there would be a further period of reflection and consultation to understand what creative solutions could be implemented.  It was acknowledged that the need to find innovative and creative solutions was of paramount importance as was the need for decisions to be taken quickly. 

In addition, Championship Clubs met earlier this week and have indicated that it is their wish to play on and conclude the season. 

The EFL will continue to work with all its members to progress the discussions and arrive at the necessary decisions as appropriate in what remain challenging and complex circumstances.

UPDATE 21/5/20

The EFL Board met yesterday to consider the feedback and subsequent implications of last week’s Divisional Club meetings, as the League continues to address the many complex financial and operational matters resulting out of the COVID-19 crisis, including how the 2019/20 campaign is concluded.

The various proposals and counter proposals received from Clubs have been reviewed and, as a result, the Board has finalised the draft framework that would be adopted into EFL Regulations, in the event a division is to make the decision to curtail its season as League Two indicated last Friday.

Clubs are now required to give the matter further consideration, before the Board formally proposes the appropriate Regulation changes, which will then be voted on by all Clubs.

The recommended framework is as follows:

  1. Resuming the 2019/20 season with the existing format remains the most appropriate course of action from a sporting integrity perspective, but the Board accepts there are circumstances that may lead to curtailment, (as has been demonstrated with League Two) or a situation subsequently transpires whereby the season is unable to conclude. 
  2. This means that in the event of an early curtailment: 
    1. Final divisional placings should be determined on unweighted points per game (if required).
    2. Promotion and relegation should be retained.
    3. Play-Offs should be played in all circumstances but should not be extended (beyond four teams). 
  3. If a scenario arises whereby the Play-Offs cannot be played, the EFL Board will determine the appropriate course of action.
  4. The Board considers that the majority required to curtail the 2019/20 Season in any division should be 51%. Determining whether or not to curtail the season is a decision for each division to take. 
  5. The principle of relegation across all three divisions is integral to the integrity of the pyramid, from the Premier League down to the National League, provided we have assurances that the National League will start Season 2020/21 (i.e. the relegated Club in League Two has somewhere to play).
  6. Any regulatory solution should be relevant and specific to the current challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak and reach a conclusion that is clear and effective with the impact and justifications easy for all stakeholders to understand.

EFL Chair, Rick Parry, said:

“In the event a divisional decision is made to curtail the 2019/20 season, the EFL Board is recommending that the League adopts the original framework with the amendments as identified, as there is a strong desire to remain as faithful as possible to the Regulations and ensure there is consistency in the approach adopted across the EFL in all divisions.

“The Board has always acknowledged that a single solution to satisfy all Clubs would always be hard to find, but we are at the point now where strong, definitive action is need for the good of the League and its members.”

UPDATE 29/05/20

At its meeting on Wednesday 27 May 2020, having carefully considered submissions from Clubs, the EFL Board agreed to progress with the proposed framework it outlined on Thursday 21 May 2020 in respect of changes to EFL Regulations in the event Season 2019/20 is curtailed in any EFL Division.

At the same time as advising on its proposed approach last week, the Board had asked Clubs to give it appropriate consideration and provide any feedback. Communications were submitted from Clubs across all divisions and those proposals, some of which have been made available publicly, suggested how the framework in the event the season is ended prematurely could alternatively work.

The Board has to date been consistent in its approach that playing out the remainder of Season 2019/20 when it is safe to do so, is the preferred position and whilst the Championship have advised of their intentions to resume fixtures, League Two Clubs have indicated their preference to curtail the season.  At present Clubs in League One are still undecided.   

A decision on whether or not to curtail the season is a matter to be considered by Clubs in any affected division, but only once a framework for resolving open issues in such circumstances has been agreed by all members across all divisions through a Regulation change.  

After a full and comprehensive review of the Club submissions, alongside consideration of views stated at the Club meetings of 13 and 15 May 2020, the Board unanimously agreed to continue with the original approach and is now proposing to call a meeting of Clubs on Monday 8 June 2020 to consider and, if thought fit, approve the proposals to introduce the Regulation change.

The EFL Articles allow Member Clubs the opportunity to propose amendments to Regulations and should any Club wish to propose an alternative, it must do so by submitting such a proposal by no later than 2.00pm on Tuesday 2 June 2020.

The EFL will issue any notice of meeting later that day.  Any such Club proposals will be considered at the same meeting as the Board’s proposal.


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