Exclusive: The date Preston North End fans will be let back into Deepdale as EFL plan fixtures
Preston North End fans won’t be allowed into Deepdale until October under current EFL plans.
The LEP understands that the EFL have set a date of October 1 as the earliest opportunity when supporters could return to stadiums, with all fixtures played prior to that date – whether as part of the 2019/20 or 2020/21 season – set to be behind closed doors.
Indeed, the October threshold is viewed as optimistic by many parties given the government’s warning that social distancing measures are set to be in place in some form until the end of the year.
In a letter to clubs earlier this month, the EFL admitted that they were working under the assumption that all games played in the 2019/20 season – whenever it may resume – were to be played behind closed doors.
But during video calls with clubs in the lower reaches of the pyramid this week, it was conceded that supporters are unlikely to be in place once the 2020/21 campaign kicks-off either.
That leaves clubs in an uncertain position financially, with clarity not yet received in how the lost match day income will be replaced. Clubs have been asked to submit financial forecasts to the EFL based upon the fact that they will not be able to welcome in crowds for up to six months.
This problem is particularly prevalent in League One and League Two, where clubs are often heavily reliant upon match day income.
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.
Clubs have been told not to return to training until May 16 at the earliest, with plans in place to conclude the campaign over an eight-week period.
Plans are being formulated for supporters to be able to stream any games played behind closed doors via iFollow or alternative streaming sites – meaning Preston games will be able to watch, albeit not in person.