Government announcement paves the way for Championship return

30 May 2020 04:17 pm, by YorkshireSquare

At Saturday government briefing, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced that competitive sport will be allowed behind closed doors in England from the 1st June, paving the way for the return of live football. This follows the announcement earlier this week that the Premier League was targeting a Wednesday 17th June return. The first two games will be Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal, the two outstanding fixtures from the last round of games. A full round of fixtures will be played a few days later on the weekend of 19th June. Finishing the season will take six weekends and three midweek rounds with matches being played every day of the week.

These announcements are good signs for the Championship who are currently around a week behind the Premier League with regards to returning to training. The Telegraph reported that the EFL sent the phase two return to training protocols to Championship clubs on Thursday with a decision likely to be made on Monday regarding a return to contact training. It is understood the majority of the 24 Championship clubs are in favour of finishing the season and will agree to the proposals. This would give clubs at three weeks full training ahead of a possible restart to the campaign on either 19th or the 26th of June.

Both Championship and Premier League players and staff are being tested for coronavirus twice a week and so far, infection rates have been low. So far 12 people have tested positive for the virus after over 2,700 tests across the Premier League. Just over 1,000 players and staff have been tested this week with three positive results, including Blackburn captain Elliott Bennett and two unnamed Fulham players. Two individuals from Hull City tested positive on Sunday following last weeks round of testing. The results so far are encouraging but there was a stark reminder of the risks involved today as it was announced Aston Villa manager, Dean Smith's father had died from the virus.

If Championship clubs do agree a return to contact training next week, announcing a date for the return of live games should not be too far behind.