Coronavirus and BCFC: The Restart

The EFL confirmed on Sunday that the Championship will restart on June 20 after a three month break due to the outbreak of coronavirus. The restart is provisional and is subject to the strict proviso that all safety requirements and government guidance is met.

St Andrew's taken 26 December 2018

While fans groups I’ve seen online are excited for the potential return to action for Blues, that feeling was not echoed by the QPR CEO Lee Hoos.

In a statement posted on the official QPR website, Hoos stated that QPR were “vehemently opposed to this schedule” and that having spoken to other clubs, he was “not a lone voice on this matter”.

With clubs only just returning to non-contact training, the idea of playing Championship games in under three weeks could well be seen as rushed.

However, it might be that Championship clubs have no real choice in the matter.

On May 5, EFL Chairman Rick Parry stated that the current season must finish on July 31 due to the situation surrounding player contracts.

Player contracts run from July 1 – June 30, with players leaving on June 30 without signing for a new club receiving a further month’s severance pay.

With this in mind, it makes sense that the club season must end at the end of July.

As it stands, Championship clubs will have just 41 days to play nine games – which means for a hectic schedule.

For Blues, there is definitely going to have to be some thought about how the squad can handle a rapid succession of games.

Blues have already confirmed that the players that they have already released will not play in the games that are to come.

Most of the players released have not had much of a part to play, but it does mean that Blues will be without Jacques Maghoma or Jefferson Monteiro on the flanks.

Likewise, players who are away from the club on standard loans are not allowed to play for Blues this season even if the club they are loaned to do not play any further games.

This ensures that even though Odin Bailey, Charlie Lakin and Josh Dacres-Cogley have returned to training at Blues, they cannot be picked until next season.

The same loan rules mean Blues can’t recall David Davis, David Stockdale, Steve Seddon, Alvaro Gimenez or Fran Villalba from their respective loans.

However, on the plus side this prevents the recall of Jake Clarke-Salter and Scott Hogan by their respective clubs.

Players who were on youth loans can be recalled however, so Geraldo Bajrami who was on loan at Solihull Moors can be selected for duty.

This means the effective Blues squad for the remaining nine games is rather threadbare and it could be we see more of the younger members given time on the pitch.

As it stands, based on who has returned to training the following are available for selection:

Goalkeepers: Lee Camp, Moha Ramos, Connal Trueman and Zach Jeacock

Defenders: Wes Harding, Krystian Pedersen, Marc Roberts, Max Colin, Harlee Dean, Jake Clarke-Salter, Geraldo Bajrami, Ryan Burke and Nico Gordon

Midfielders: Maikel Kieftenbeld, Dan Crowley, Gary Gardner, Jude Bellingham, Ivan Sunjic, Caolan Boyd-Munce, Ryan Stirk, Jack Concannon and Kyle Hurst

Forwards: Lukas Jutkiewicz, Jeremie Bela, Kerim Mrabti, Scott Hogan, Jayden Reid and Miguel Fernandez

There is above a total of 28 players, of whom 16 (including Jude Bellingham) are what I would consider senior first team professionals. Of the 12 remaining players, seven are yet to make their first team debut.

In honesty, I suspect the situation at Blues is probably echoed at many other clubs.

As much as I would like to see the season returning (assuming it’s safe), there has to be a slight worry that it’s going to be asking of lot of players.

I hope in their rush to save the season (and to ensure that the money in football keeps flowing), that the EFL take the pressure they are putting on players to get the season done under consideration.