West Brom making provisions to ensure they can complete season behind closed doors
Albion are making plans to host matches behind closed doors after it was revealed the English Football League is considering completing the season in 56 days this summer.
A letter from EFL chairman Rick Parry sent to all 71 clubs advised them training should not resume until at least May 16 as the country remains on lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Parry said the ‘working assumption’ was that the remaining matches in the 2019-20 season would be played behind closed doors.
That proposal has received support from Albion, who have already made it clear to the EFL they believe every possible action must be taken to ensure the campaign is completed. The Baggies, who sit second in the Championship, would much rather their final nine games were played in front of their supporters. But if that is not safe, they will back proposals to play behind closed doors and have already started making plans should that be the way the season moves forward.
Even without spectators in the ground, between 150 and 200 people will be in attendance for matches behind closed doors. And Albion are making provisions to ensure they can all be at The Hawthorns safely and comply with government rules on social distancing.
Alongside the Baggies, Walsall also received the letter from Parry explaining how the season – including the play-offs – can be finished within 56 days,
In it he wrote: “Clubs should be advised not to recommence any training activity with players until May 16 at the earliest.
“Whenever the decision is taken that is safe to resume, we currently estimate that the league will require approximately 56 days to complete the outstanding matches in the season (including play-offs) and we are committed to ensuring that clubs are provided an appropriate notice period to ensure you are able to prepare operationally given the scale and impact of the postponements in place.
“How and when we return is clearly subject to change and any decisions will be taken in conjunction with the government and relevant health authorities. Clearly, we are in a position whereby the 2019-20 campaign will be extended, but still remain hopeful of a conclusion in the summer months.”
Meanwhile, Albion are holding off making any financial decisions until the end of April.
Up and down the country there have been examples of clubs placing staff on the government’s furlough scheme. Some teams have also asked their players to defer wages.
Albion, though, remain in a steady financial position. They also believe an agreement could be reached on how the season will be completed by the end of April. Once that decision has been made, they feel they will be better placed to make financial plans for the future.