Walsall prepare for 2020/21 season launch amid possibility of early Carabao Cup start
Walsall are preparing for the possibility of an earlier Carabao Cup start as they get ready for the launch of the 2020/21 League Two season.
After it was announced that the fourth tier would return on September 12, the players and coaching staff are ready to return to training this week.
Now, Saddlers secretary Dan Mole has revealed that the Carabao Cup may return earlier than the league – as the club prepares for a return to action.
“We’re really pleased to get a date, because we have a point to start with now,” Mole said.
“We can now work backwards from there. The players return to training this week and a pre-season schedule is being put together for August. That will give us decent preparation for the start of the season.
“We’re just waiting on the Carabao Cup game to be dated as well because there is some talk of the cup game taking place before September 12. We have to factor that into our preparation.
“The fact that we have a date means we can plan backwards and it gives us the opportunity to plan ahead and make sure everything at the stadium is correct for what will be behind closed doors to begin with.
“Although it is pretty fluid at the moment and ever changing, we are planning for it to be behind closed doors in those early weeks.
“October 1 is a date we’re all looking at with great interest and we’ll be speaking to the EFL and government with a view to all the pilot schemes that are taking place.
“If they’re successful, who knows, the date could push forward but we just don’t know.
“We have to make sure as a football club that we’re prepared for the supporters to return as safely as possible as soon as possible.
“We’re proud and honoured to be hosting Aston Villa Women’s debut season in the Women’s Super League.
“That will factor in to all our plans as well as they’ll be playing at the Banks’s Stadium.
“There’s a lot to factor in with Walsall, Aston Villa Women and the behind closed doors plan that we’ve put together – while looking forward to the socially distanced plans that we’re working on as we speak.”
With the government’s plan currently outlining a phased return of fans from October, it is understood that many clubs would struggle financially to host games in September without supporters.
Although Mole believes it is unsustainable in the long haul, he says the club can make it work in September – while hoping to generate income from broadcasting the game.
“We have a meeting with the EFL scheduled for this week to talk about the iFollow product and streaming of those games,” he added.
“Obviously there is Fifa Article 48, that we have to get over, regarding the broadcast of domestic games at 3pm on a Saturday.
“There are still hurdles to come over.
“Behind closed doors doesn’t work in the lower leagues long–term, but if it means getting football back then we can work with the EFL and central government to make it work in the short–term.
“We’ll work with them to deliver that but our focus is on the safe return of the supporters.”