By Paul Jones
Cardiff City and Swansea City may be preparing for a June 20 return to action, but some of their Championship rivals have cast doubt on the idea with scathing criticism of the EFL.
Barnsley, QPR and Luton are leading the critical voices, claiming the resumption has been poorly planned, badly communicated and rushed through.
Barnsley have written to the EFL to sound the alarm over the “potential failure of their enterprise” they get ready to play for the first time since mid-March.
The Tykes, who are bottom of the league, are calling for increased parachute payments to be made if they are relegated – an eventuality they say would be “unfair and unlawful” if the remaining games are not concluded.
The club’s letter to EFL chairman Rick Parry proposes scrapping relegation in the Championship, League One and League Two, if those matches are not complete.
The letter goes on to say that, if they are, the £7.4m received by each Championship club should be paid to the three relegated teams next season, to help them survive the lack of income caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Barnsley chief executive Dane Murphy said early on in the coronavirus crisis that a date needed to be set for the football season to be completed.
— Barnsley FC (@BarnsleyFC) May 31, 2020
Their letter says: “If the 19/20 season is completed, it will be completed with a lack of sporting integrity. Some clubs will have unbalanced squads compared to competitors due to ending player contracts.
“Some clubs will lose home-field advantage for matches behind closed doors in respect to the reverse fixture earlier this season. This is especially true with big rivalries and the loss of the respective revenue.
“Those clubs unfairly and unlawfully relegated to a lower division would face further uncertainty and potential failure of their enterprise.
“The only way to secure against innumerable damages in the case of relegation would be a one-time parachute payment to the affected clubs representing the loss of one season of television revenue.”
The letter comes after the EFL called for clubs to put forward any changes to their regulations no later than 2pm on Tuesday, and also proposes similar payments are given to the teams relegated from Leagues One and Two.
Fellow relegation-threatened Luton also have concerns, despite welcoming the proposed restart date, including how training will be stepped up across all clubs over the next few weeks.
The Hatters want guidelines from the EFL that ensure fairness, amid concerns some clubs could put their own protocols in place to try to gain an advantage.
There is also a feeling at Kenilworth Road that they will be playing too many matches in too short a period; that trying to compress the remaining fixtures and play-offs into six weeks is asking too much of the players, risking injuries.
The club would rather see the season played out over six weeks instead, with the play-offs in August.
Derby’s 3-0 win over Blackburn on March 8 was the last Championship game before coronavirus halted football.
Clubs are yet to return to full contact training but plan to do so later this week with the EFL now given the green light to return on Saturday, June 20.
Queens Park Rangers, meanwhile, said they were “appalled” by the announcement of the restart date, with chief executive Lee Hoos accusing the governing body of conducting “absolutely no consultation with individual clubs”.
Manager Mark Warburton says QPR have been “blindsided” by the EFL’s proposed resumption of the Championship season on June 20.
Warburton, whose side are 13th and five points off the play-offs with nine games remaining, says the start date causes him “great concern” and is at least one week too soon.