English Championship sets provisional June 20 restart date

FILE PHOTO: Millwall's Lee Gregory (R) celebrates after Danny Shittu scored against Brentford during their English Championship League soccer match at The Den in London November 8, 2014. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

LONDON (Reuters) - England's second tier Championship plans to resume play on June 20, more than three months after it was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the English Football League (EFL) said on Sunday.

The provisional date was subject to all safety requirements and government guidance being met and clubs receiving clearance from local authorities to stage home matches.

Clubs are set to resume full contact training this week, with the government saying that competitive sport in England can return from Monday behind closed doors provided strict conditions are met.

"Whilst matches will unfortunately have to take place without supporters, we are working with our broadcast partners, EFL Championship Clubs and all relevant stakeholders to broadcast the remaining 108 games," EFL chairman Rick Parry said in a statement.

He said the games, and the Championship playoffs, will be either live on subscription-based Sky Sports, iFollow or a club's equivalent streaming service.

"We must stress that at this stage the date is only provisional and will only be confirmed once we have met all the requirements," said Parry of the June resumption.

"Clearly completing the season in a safe manner is going to require a significant effort by all concerned and, whilst not unprecedented, it will need clubs to play a significant number of matches over a relatively short period of time."

Leeds United lead the standings, a point ahead of West Bromwich Albion.

Fulham, Brentford, Nottingham Forest and Preston North End occupy the playoff spots while Charlton Athletic, Luton Town and Barnsley are the bottom three.

No Championship matches have been played since March 8.

The EFL said the Championship play-off final would be on or around July 30.

It was also agreed to consider changing the regulations to allow the use of five substitutes in the remaining fixtures and an increase in the matchday squad from 18 to 20 players.

The Premier League, the world's richest soccer league, has already announced it plans to restart on June 17.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)

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