Following the easing of the lockdown restrictions in the UK, the EFL have now set a “provisional” date for a return to action – with England’s second tier pencilled in for a June 20 resumption.
With both League One and League Two looking set to curtail the campaigns, there were fears that the Championship might not be able to complete the 2019-20 season.
But the EFL are now optimistic that the remaining 109 matches can take place, “subject to the strict proviso that all safety requirements and government guidance is met”.
The hope is that the Championship campaign will be concluded “on or around” July 30 – which could be the date for the Play-Off Final, dubbed the most expensive match in football.
Squads have been back in training since May 25, so they will have had around a month to prepare for a return to action. The last Championship fixture was played on March 8, when Derby beat Blackburn 3-0 at Pride Park.
Provisional Date for Return
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 remains 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.”
The news will particularly lift the likes of Leeds United and West Bromwich Albion, who currently occupy the two automatic promotion places.
Leeds hold a one a point advantage over West Brom, with both clubs having nine games left to play of the regular season and the prize of a return to the Premier League in their grasp.
The league leaders had won five games on the spin, without conceding a goal, prior the break and the West Yorkshire club look to be in a strong position to end their 17-year absence from the top flight. Marcelo Bielsa’s man are due to play five of their last nine matches at Elland Road.
Scott Parker’s Fulham were third prior to the enforced break, some six points behind the Baggies, with Brentford, Nottingham Forest and Preston currently filling the other play-off places.
EFL Playoff Contenders
There is still plenty to play for in the battle to finish in the top six, with five teams – Bristol City, Millwall, Cardiff, Blackburn and Swansea – within three points of the final play-off spot.
It’s equally tight at the bottom end of the table, with eight teams looking to be embroiled in the battle to stay out of the bottom three and facing the prospect of slipping into League One.
After back-to-back defeats prior to the league suspension, Barnsley are bottom and seven points from safety, with Luton and Charlton filling the other two spaces in the drop zone.
Hull City, Wigan, Middlesbrough, Huddersfield and Stoke are all anxiously looking over their shoulders still, with nine games remaining.