Preston North End back the decision to carry on with season

The determination within English football to play this season to a finish – however long that might take – has been welcomed by Preston.

Friday, 20th March 2020, 5:00 am

The fixture list was further suspended yesterday until April 30 at the earliest while the world fights the coronavirus.

In a joint statement from the EFL and Premier League, what was significant was the relaxation of the FA rule that the season must be completed by June 1.

The time limit for the season to finish has been extended indefinitely.

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Preston North End manager Alex Neil

In effect, this season can go on for as long as is needed.

North End officials had been keeping a close watch on the outcome of a conference call between the 20 Premier League clubs yesterday.

On Wednesday, the EFL board had met and underlined a willingness to see the full season played.

The fact the Premier League and EFL were singing from the same hymn sheet was vital and signalled unity at such a difficult time.

Peter Ridsdale, advisor to PNE owner Trevor Hemmings, told the Lancashire Post: “Our stance since the games were suspended was that we had to finish the season.

“You can’t play 37 matches and then pretend they haven’t happened.

“What the timescale will be to play matches, we don’t know at this stage.

“Obviously everyone is in a difficult place at the moment but there will come a time when we come through it.”

The suspension of the fixtures by a further four weeks will bring a bit more clarity to clubs in terms of handling their players.

It is likely to see a break in the training regime for most clubs, knowing the earliest they can play again is the end of April. Realistically, it could be much later that they get going.

The North End squad trained in the early part of the week before being handed a few days off.

PNE boss Alex Neil will now sit down with club officials to discuss what happens in the coming few weeks and work out a schedule.

If they are to spend time away from the club, the players will be given a strict fitness programme to adhere to.

There will have to be a mini pre-season of sorts before games get under way again.

In terms of financial help during the shutdown, all clubs in the Championship, League One and League Two are being advanced the remainder of their EFL basic award.

For Championship clubs, that is £800,000.

Ridsdale said: “We would have been getting that money anyway between now and June.

“Rather than it being paid in three stages, the payment has been made in one go now.”