Derby County Championship return latest as Barnsley send angry letter to EFL about Rams
The latest concerning the return of the Championship and Rams footballby Jamie Kemble
Derby County have now been out of action for more than two months.
There are indications that Championship football could return with players returning to training this week after tests began last week.
But we remain a matter of weeks away from any potential return with mid-to-late June being eyed.
Every day brings fresh news over when Derby County could return to action.
To help you keep up, we have rounded up the latest below.
Barnsley send angry letter about Rams
Championship bottom club Barnsley have written a furious letter to the EFL with reference to Derby County.
That's according to The Guardian, who say the Tykes have made it clear to League bosse s that they will not accept relegation if the season is not restarted, citing the investigations into Derby County and Sheffield Wednesday as their reason.
Barnsley feel it would be unfair for them to be relegated while the EFL are yet to conclude on the investigations revolving around the Rams and the Owls and the sale of their stadiums, and whether their actions were an illegal loophole to comply with FFP sanctions.
The worst possible sanction if found to be in the wrong is a fine and a points deduction, which could take Wednesday into the bottom three and the Rams very close to it.
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And that's why Barnsley, who feel two of their rivals have not played by the rules, are unhappy.
The Yorkshire club have now written a strongly-worded letter to the EFL, making it clear they will not accept relegation.
The Guardian obtained the letter from the Tykes board, which read: "Our perspective has alarmed us to the fact that rule adherence and proper governance of violations is appallingly worse here in England than counterparts in France, Belgium and Switzerland.
“A key element of La Liga’s large revenue growth in the last five years is its strict observance of relegation when rules are broken (including unpaid player wages, transfer fees, filing of timely financial statements, and unbalanced or unfunded budgets). How can anyone use the phrase ‘sporting integrity’ or the word ‘fair’ in any relegation scenario if the games aren’t played?
“This is a scenario that will not be passively accepted. Two to three clubs pending punishments from EFL charges could change the current status of the Championship table.”
Derby and Sheffield Wednesday deny any wrongdoing.
Championship chief's warning
Sides in the Championship have received a huge restart boost after the government released its “phase two” guidance for athletes and elite sportsmen and women.
This next stage will enable footballers to return to close-contact and competitive training, provided it has the "appropriate carefully controlled medical conditions in place".
Both public health officials and sports medical officers have contributed to the guidelines, with “stage three” of the government's protocols expected to centre around a return to action in June.
The new guidelines state that: "Stage Two training can be described as the resumption of close contact (interaction within the two-metre social distancing boundary) training where pairs, small groups and/or teams will be able to interact in much closer contact (e.g. close quarters coaching, combat sports sparring, teams sports tackling, technical equipment sharing, etc)."
"This new guidance marks the latest phase of a carefully phased return to training process for elite athletes, designed to limit the risk of injury and protect the health and safety of all involved,” Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said.
"We are absolutely clear that individual sports must review whether they have the appropriate carefully controlled medical conditions in place before they can proceed, and secure the confidence of athletes, coaches and support staff.
"Given the wide-ranging input we have received from medical experts, we believe these pragmatic measures should provide further reassurance that a safe, competitive training environment can be delivered, as we work towards a restart of professional sport behind closed doors when it is safe to do so."
Championship clubs disagree
Derby County 's Championship rivals West Bromwich Albion have confirmed that they will not back Hull City ’s calls to curtail the current Championship season.
City vice chairman Ehab Allam last week wrote to EFL chairman Rick Parry to outline his “serious concerns” over the proposed restart of the campaign next month.
Allam wants to see the current season voided due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and sent a second letter stating the integrity of the competition would be under threat if games were played.
However, so far, Hull have found no public backing from other Championship clubs ahead of an EFL board meeting on Wednesday with some sides in England’s second-tier returning to training today.
Leeds United have already stated they would prefer to win promotion on the pitch, rather than on a points-per-game system, and Albion have said they are “resolutely behind” playing the remaining nine games of the season.
“We certainly welcome the clarity the EFL have now provided as to its future intentions in terms of resolving the conclusion of the 2019/20 season,” West Brom chief executive Mark Jenkins wrote in a statement.
“However, let me say at the outset that West Bromwich Albion’s position in this remains the same now as it was back when fixtures were halted - the Club is resolutely behind finishing the campaign, if it is at all possible, where it belongs and that is on the pitch.
“We take comfort that this is also the apparent wish of all the governing bodies and the majority of our fellow Championship clubs.
“From the moment that the path was cleared for the players to return to training, albeit in a regulated and strictly-controlled format, our mindset has been focused solely on being in the best possible shape, physically and mentally, to complete the remaining nine league fixtures.
“Up to the point of the lockdown, we had enjoyed an excellent season from Slaven (Bilic) and the players and we all remain firmly behind them and their ability to finish off the job in a manner which would befit an exceptional and unique campaign.
“To that end, we are gearing up to be ready to stage games behind closed doors at The Hawthorns while observing all anticipated safety protocols.
“As Slaven has made clear, the players have applied themselves to their individual training programmes diligently and returned to training in excellent shape, mentally and physically, for the challenges ahead. We will continue to do everything we can in challenging circumstances to support their efforts.”