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Prepare to be locked out of Elland Road until October
Friday, 24th Apr 2020 22:12 by Tim Whelan

As discussions continue as to when and how football can resume after the current crisis, the latest is that the Football League believe that the earliest fans can be allowed back into stadiums will be October 1st.

The Yorkshire Post have reported today that it ‘understands’ the EFL have that date as a deadline, with all games before then having to be played behind closed doors. And even that might be optimistic, when the government have warned that social distancing measures are likely to be in place in some form until the end of the year.

That leaves clubs in an uncertain position financially due to the drop in match-day income and clubs have been asked to submit financial forecasts to the EFL on the basis they will not be able to admit crowds for up to six months, and will have to pay some refunds for tickets already bought by fans who will not now be able to get in to see the games.

This has led several clubs have deferred players’ wages, including Leeds, to ensure that they can continue to pay the non-playing staff in full. But today we’ve had to put up with an opportunistic call from Preston manager Alex Neil for the EFL to enforce a transfer embargo on teams that have furloughed staff or implemented wage cuts. By coincidence Preston are one of the clubs who haven’t done so.

"If they can't currently pay the players they have got then why should they then be allowed to use the money they have deferred from wages to then invest in their squad to bring better or more players in? I don't think that clubs who have run their finances in an organised and good manner should then be hampered and hamstrung when other teams are maybe slashing wages and then we get out-bid for a player that they have brought with money that they have deferred from another player.”

This is of course ignoring the fact that in our case we have only deferred a portion of player’s wages not permanently reduced them, so we will have to pay the difference in due course. And it’s insulting to accuse clubs of not running their finances in an organised manner when they budgeted for a full season of matchday income only to affected by a crisis they couldn’t have foreseen.

Hopefully the EFL will do the sensible thing and ignore Neal, and take account of the extraordinary circumstances we are living through. Another issue to be sorted out is the transfer window, as it will be out of step with the break between seasons if it runs from June to August. Portsmouth chief executive Mark Catlin has proposed it should remain open until the end of January and says he believes League chairman Rick Parry is also in favour of this.

Some Leeds fans have been worried by today’s news that the Dutch league has been cancelled with no promotion and relegation to take place, as this could set a precedent for other leagues across Europe. But the Premier League and EFL remain committed to completing the 2019/20 season, and UEFA have reiterated their intention to finish the Champions League and Europa League.

The EFL are currently planning for the new season to begin in September, provided that the outstanding fixtures in the current campaign can begin in June as is currently planned. And while they have to be played behind closed doors plans are being formed for supporters to be able to stream them on the internet.

Let’s hope that one way or another we will still get the chance to earn our place back in the Premier League.

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