EFL chair Rick Parry: We want to finish season on the pitch
EFL chair tells The Football Show: "Our position at the moment is we want to finish the season on the pitch, and sporting integrity is of paramount importance. That is a line we are sticking to for as long as we humanly can."
Last Updated: 17/04/20 2:51pm
The EFL remains determined to finish this season on the pitch for as long as they "humanly can", according to Rick Parry.
The chairman of the Football League appeared on The Football Show on Friday morning to discuss a wide range of challenges currently facing their leagues, having published an open letter to supporters.
Parry outlined some of the challenges currently facing the league and clubs amid the coronavirus outbreak, including why it is vital to communicate with fans, their hopes of finishing the current campaign, and why players health and safety remains paramount...
It is vital to communicate with supporters
We hadn't specifically communicated with supporters up to now and it's about remembering they are the lifeblood of the game. It's really important they know what is going on as much as anyone else.
Open letter to supporters from Rick Parry and the EFL
An open letter from EFL chair Rick Parry to the supporters of clubs on April 17, 2020
It's a reminder that they remain in our thoughts and that they are going to be incredibly important when we get back to playing football.
We look forward to playing in full stadiums, whenever that might be. But it certainly won't be any time soon.
No realistic date when football can resume
Clearly, the virus is going to decide when we start playing again. No one knows exactly when that is going to be. Clearly, at the moment, there is a lot of uncertainty and a lot of unrest, particularly at our level where clubs are struggling financially. A lack of gate receipts is really important to them and a lot of clubs are also reliant on owner funding. But owners businesses are struggling, and their sponsors are often local businesses who are also struggling.
There are all sorts of complexities. From the biggest to the smallest [clubs] they all face different challenges, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. In times of anxiety everyone gets anxious and nervous and worries about what happens next. It's a really unprecedented situation and, to be blunt, nobody has any answers, because nobody knows when we're going to get through this.
Some of the clubs are certainly on the edge, while some are better placed. We've provided some up-front funding to clubs to get them through the immediate months. They have taken advantage of government initiatives, they are deferring tax and furloughing players and employees, which is really helpful.
The bigger problems, though, are going to come at the end of June because clubs are rolling up debt. We will also have more than 600 players coming out of contract. There's a huge amount of uncertainty and it's just about how you pick through that as calmly as you can.
Safety of players is paramount
We've got to be really conscious of the health and welfare of our players. We can't just expect them to go out there and take risks.
We talk about testing, sanitising and sterile stadiums. We can do all of that but if the virus hasn't gone away and there are still risks, then we are going to have to be governed by that.
It is all uncertain and you have to say that none of the news that has been coming out in the last few days gives great cause for optimism. Everything seems to be getting worse rather than better, and we can't rush into this.
It is frustrating. I wish we had an answer but we don't, and frankly I don't think we're going to have an answer for at least another month. We can all speculate and plan for all sorts of scenarios, but at the moment we just don't know.
EFL remain determined to finish the season
Our position at the moment is we want to finish the season on the pitch, and sporting integrity is of paramount importance. That is a line we are sticking to for as long as we humanly can.
Is it conceivable that there could be different solutions for different leagues? Frankly, anything is possible or conceivable and it would be daft to rule anything out because if this becomes increasingly serious and the financial situation becomes increasingly perilous then that is a fact of life we'll have to deal with.
For the next few weeks the focus is on finishing on the pitch and getting back to something approaching normality. But it's under review all the time and we will respond as we have to.
There are all sorts of permutations. We could decide we have to at some stage take a longer break and that we don't have to resume for weeks, well into the autumn or even beyond. We could also have a break then finish the season before rolling into the next.
There are so many possibilities that shouldn't be ruled out, but we're not there yet. At the moment the thinking is that we can get the season finished, but clearly every week and month that goes by that becomes more unlikely.
Everything is speculative but you can't rule anything out, because it would be foolish. It's just about trying to pick the way through as calmly as possible and making decisions based on evidence rather than speculation.
But we don't have any evidence at the moment, the country is in lockdown for another three weeks and I can't imagine anyone thinks in three weeks we are going to come out of it, because what happens then? Until we have a vaccine, and that's a long way off, I can't see any solution to this.
In other countries we're seeing announcements about not playing in front of crowds until 2021, we just have to stay as calm as we can in an increasingly difficult situation and face up to the challenges for as long as we have to.
Talks going on across the English game
There is very constructive dialogue across the FA, Premier League and EFL, and of course with the PFA, too.
The interesting thing about this situation is we're not on different sides of the table. We've all got challenges and it's a case of recognising we've all got problems and we all need to be a part of the solution.
Football has to be conscious of its image at the moment and that is something we have to embrace. It's the reason we've been communicating with supporters.
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