Norwich City and Middlesbrough are among the teams selected to welcome back a limited number of fans this week as the EFL continues its pilot programme.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, crowds had not been allowed at professional matches across Britain since football returned in June until Cambridge United were able to facilitate spectators last week.

With fans returning to games in France and certain regions of Germany, the EFL has now confirmed an extension of its scheme, with 10 fixtures initially selected for the coming weekend, although Luton Town have opted out.

Following government guidance, crowds will be capped at a 1,000 capacity with social distancing measures in place. Talks are ongoing over the possibility of higher attendances being allowed after October 1.

Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium will be able to house fans for their game against Bournemouth, while Norwich City versus Preston North End is the only other Championship match with spectators in attendance after Luton, who host Derby County, informed the EFL they would not be involved.

In League One, Charlton Athletic, Blackpool, Shrewsbury Town and Hull City have all been given the green light to host fans.

Forest Green Rovers, Carlisle United and Morecambe are the League Two teams selected, following in the footsteps of Cambridge, Morecambe's visitors.

"It's encouraging that we are in a position to move forward with the next phase of the pilot programme and give a small number of our clubs the opportunity to welcome back up to a 1,000 fans this week," said EFL chairman Rick Parry.

"The health and well-being of supporters and their wider communities remains the priority, but as we showed at Cambridge, social distancing can be applied safely.

"By extending across more EFL clubs, we hope to further demonstrate that the measures developed can allow fans to return in greater numbers from as early as next month."

Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin has invested in Forest Green Rovers, becoming the League Two club's second-largest shareholder.

The Spaniard is eager to support Rovers' green agenda, with the club having gained recognition as the world's most environmentally friendly team from FIFA and the United Nations (UN).

"Forest Green are showing others the way," Bellerin told the club's official website.

"So many people feel there's no solution to the world's problems, but Forest Green are already doing plenty.

"I'm so excited to be part of the FGR family. I'll be helping where I can, supporting people who want to change the world for the better."

Rovers went vegan in 2015 and were certified carbon neutral by the UN three years later.

In June, Bellerin pledged to plant 3,000 trees for every game Arsenal won for the remainder of the 2019-20 season.

The full-back partnered with global charity 'One Tree Planted', highlighting his passion for environmental issues.

Bellerin is a vegan, something he shares in common with Rovers owner Dale Vince, and the 25-year-old lauded the club's work.

"Forest Green Rovers prove to clubs who say they don't have resources to be sustainable that it is possible," he said.

"With the new stadium, being carbon neutral and vegan, the club is doing some mind-blowing work.

"People have a universal love of football, so there's no better industry to promote sustainability – and what we can do as football supporters to be more environmentally conscious."

League Two club Oldham Athletic have appointed former Leeds United, Liverpool and Australia forward Harry Kewell as their new head coach.

Kewell, 41, replaces Dino Maamria, who was sacked after 10 months at the helm on Friday.

Oldham are the third team in English football's fourth tier Kewell has taken on in the early stages of his coaching career, following spells at Crawley Town and Notts County.

The Latics have had seven bosses since Abdallah Lemsagam became owner in 2018, including a 31-day spell for Manchester United great Paul Scholes last year.

Kewell was part of the Liverpool team that won the 2005 Champions League and scored 17 times across 58 caps for Australia, which included appearances at the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.

Former Manchester City and Barcelona star Yaya Toure trained with League Two side Leyton Orient on Friday.

Photos of Toure wearing Orient training gear were posted on the London club's official social media account.

The Ivory Coast great, who won the Premier League three times with City and two LaLiga titles and the Champions League at Barcelona, is reportedly training with the team to get fit ahead of the new season.

After a stint at Olympiacos, Toure joined Chinese League One side Qingdao Huanghai last year and helped them earn promotion to the Super League.

Toure has been heavily linked with a move to Brazilian side Vasco da Gama and appeared in a campaign video alongside presidential candidate Luiz Roberto Leven Siano.

Leven Siano has claimed the 35-year-old signed a contract that will run from January 2021 until December 2022.

Eight individuals connected to Championship clubs have tested positive for coronavirus in the latest round of testing, the English Football League (EFL) has confirmed.

There were 2,213 tests conducted on players and staff across all 24 clubs in the division, with the positive results coming from six teams.

An EFL statement released on Wednesday read: "Those players or club staff who have tested positive will now self-isolate in line with the guidelines provided by the EFL.

"Only those who have tested negative will be permitted to enter training ground facilities."

The Championship is set to resume on Saturday, three days after the Premier League recommences, so any people who tested positive in this round will have to miss the first batch of matches.

Brentford, who face Fulham in the English second-tier's first game back, confirmed they had returned one of the positive tests, not specifying whether it was a player.

Across League One and League Two, 428 players and staff were tested from a total of eight teams.

Four of those tests returned a positive result.

Two individuals connected to Championship clubs have tested positive for coronavirus in the latest round of testing, the English Football League (EFL) has confirmed.

This most recent figure marks a significant decrease from the previous two batches, which saw a combined total of 19 positive tests.

One of the positive results came at Barnsley, the Tykes have confirmed, with the club saying the individual is "safe" and "remains upbeat".

The overall sample size was 1,179 this time around, meaning over 5,000 tests have been carried out on players and staff associated with Championship clubs since May 21.

An EFL statement read: "Following the latest round of COVID-19 testing, the EFL can confirm that 1,179 players and club staff from the 24 Championship clubs were tested over the course of Wednesday June 3, Thursday June 4, Friday June 5 and Saturday June 6, with two individuals testing positive from two clubs.

"Those players or club staff who have tested positive will now self-isolate in line with the guidelines provided by the EFL and only those who have tested negative will be permitted to enter training ground facilities."

The Championship is set to resume on June 20, three days after the Premier League recommences.

Across League One and League Two, 267 players and staff were tested - one returned a positive result.

 

The Championship saw 10 individuals test positive for coronavirus after tests on Thursday and Friday, it was announced.

While the Premier League announced no new positives from the latest round of testing, it was a different story in England's second tier.

The English Football League announced there were 10 positives from eight clubs after 1,058 tests on Thursday and Friday.

"Following the latest round of COVID-19 testing, the EFL can confirm that 1,058 players and club staff from the 24 Championship clubs were tested over the course of Thursday 28 May and Friday 29 May, with 10 individuals testing positive from eight clubs," a statement said.

"Those players or club staff who have tested positive will now self-isolate in line with the guidelines provided by the EFL and only those who have tested negative will be permitted to enter training ground facilities."

Suspended since March, the Championship is reportedly hoping to restart next month.

Leeds United were a point clear of West Brom when the campaign was stopped.

The EFL also said there were seven positive tests from three clubs in League Two, from 135 tests.

Harry Kane has teamed up with Leyton Orient in a deal that will see the England captain sponsor the club's shirts for the 2020-21 season and provide the space to worthwhile causes.

The striker may be a superstar at Tottenham now but he made his senior debut while on loan at Orient back in 2011, scoring five goals in 18 appearances during his stint at Brisbane Road.

Raised not far from their ground, Kane wanted to show his support for the League Two club during the uncertain times caused by the coronavirus pandemic, leading to a unique sponsorship agreement.

However, it will not be his name appearing on the front of the kit.

The home shirt will carry a thank you message to the frontline heroes for their work during the health crisis, while Haven House Children's Hospice will be displayed on the away kit. As for the third strip, that will feature the logo for Mind, the mental health charity.

As well as the additional coverage, 10 per cent of proceeds from each shirt sale will be passed to that charity.

"I was born and brought up only at a couple of miles from the stadium and I am really happy to have the opportunity to give back to the club that gave me my first professional start," Kane said.

"This also gives me a platform to be able to say a big thank you to the many frontline heroes and charities out there who provide care and support during these challenging times."

The Premier League, Football League and Football Association have approved the sponsorship, with Orient chief executive Danny Macklin full of praise for Kane.

"Thank you, Harry, for your amazing support and generosity – you are a true role model for the modern game," Macklin said.

Hard-hit English clubs from outside the Premier League may want to look again at tie-ups with top-flight sides after the coronavirus period, a former Football Association chief has suggested.

Dan Ashworth served as FA technical director until departing after the 2018 World Cup to join Brighton and Hove Albion, where he holds the same job title.

He was involved in talks while at the national governing body that took in discussions about B teams and feeder clubs, but in 2017 said he could not see the shape of the English game "changing anytime soon".

The English Football League (EFL) also took a strong stance against the notion of B teams, at a time when it was suggested an extra tier could be added in a restructuring plan.

However, clubs are facing up to unprecedented hardship because of the COVID-19 crisis, with football suspended and little hope that spectators will be allowed inside stadiums until 2021 at the earliest.

It could mean many clubs are left with crippling debts and others go out of existence, potentially leaving holes to fill in the EFL's competitions, which may create space for B teams of Premier League clubs.

Those teams from the Championship, League One and League Two that survive might welcome the prospect of being propped up by elite clubs, who are fighting to protect their huge broadcast revenue.

Ashworth, quoted widely in the UK media, said: "The sort of things we explored a number of years ago, during my time at the FA, were strategic loan clubs, B teams or partner clubs.

"Maybe, just maybe, things like that come back on the table.

"If there is a shortage of money and everybody has to cut their cloth accordingly then maybe there're ways we can share resources and help one another.

"Ground sharing is one that has been looked at before, artificial surfaces that can be used for concerts and training. You could have women's and men's games in the same venue."

Discussions relating to the return of Premier League football have been held in "constructive meetings", according to the United Kingdom government's foreign secretary Dominic Raab.

The Premier League has been on hiatus for almost two months due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has impacted much of the world and brought professional sport to a standstill.

'Project Restart', as it has been dubbed, is being planned by the Premier League, as decision-makers look to determine the best way to resume matches.

According to reports, numerous ideas are being considered, such as playing the remaining matches behind closed doors at neutral venues, while Professional Footballers' Association chief Gordon Taylor has suggested matches could even be shortened.

Raab confirmed the government has already held talks with sporting bodies with regards to allowing athletes and players to resume training, and while he suggested discussions are going well, he stressed safety is the priority.

"I think it would lift the spirit of the nation," Raab said in the government's daily briefing on Tuesday.

"The government has had constructive meetings with sports bodies over plans for athletes to resume training when it's safe to do so.

"The culture secretary has also been working on a plan to get sports played behind closed doors when we move to the second phase.

"We can only do it when the medical and scientific advice is that it can be done safely and sustainably, but that is certainly something under active consideration."

The UK has had almost 195,000 confirmed cases of the virus, while the death toll has reached 29,427, the largest total in Europe.

Cancelling relegation from the Premier League this season would outrage Championship clubs, according to Rick Parry, the EFL chairman.

Parry added that the 2019-20 campaign needs to be finished by July 31 for sides outside the top flight.

Former Liverpool and Premier League chief executive Parry was giving evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Professional football in England has been suspended since March, with Parry revealing that clubs below the top flight are facing a £200million shortfall by the end of September as a result.

"Our end date realistically is 31 July because of the situation with contracts," said Parry of when the season needs to come to a close. "We can't go beyond July.

"Players and staff have been furloughed and to expect clubs to bring them back in now, to forgo the furlough, only to then find in a month they can't play would be a complete mess.

"We need within days to be taking decisions.

"We have a great deal of uncertainty around next season and the undetermined matter of when we'll be able to return with crowds, which for the EFL is absolutely critical.

"We're much more dependent upon the revenue and atmosphere generated by crowds than the Premier League."

Some Premier League clubs are reportedly uneasy about the competitive disadvantage of playing behind closed doors at neutral venues as they battle relegation, believing the drop into the Championship should be taken off the table.

However, Parry said: "The Premier League is aware of our position on that. There would be a degree of outrage from a number of clubs in the Championship and it would be a breach of the tripartite agreement."

Parry added that "lawyers are going to get wealthy" if relegation is scrapped.

Norwich City, Aston Villa and Bournemouth were in the relegation places when the season was halted. West Ham and Watford were only outside the bottom three on goal difference, with Brighton and Hove Albion two points clear of the drop.

Gordon Taylor has revealed playing less than 45 minutes per half has been proposed ahead of the return of football in England.

There has been no professional football in England since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, and players' union boss Taylor does not envisage a return until at least the middle of June.

The Premier League launched 'Project Restart' in a bid to conclude the 2019/20 campaign, with games potentially played at neutral venues in England or even overseas.

World governing body FIFA has proposed increasing the number of substitutions in an attempt to ease players' workload, with the prospect of a hectic schedule to come if the action gets under way again.

Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) chief executive Taylor says reducing the duration of matches has also been discussed.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "We don't know the future, what we do know is what propositions have been put, what ideas have been put, the possibility of having more substitutes, games possibly not being the full 45 minutes each way.

"We've talked of neutral stadiums, there's lots of things been put forward, try and wait and see what the proposals are and then have the courtesy to let the managers and coaches and players come to a considered view."

Taylor believes it would be unrealistic to expect games to take place before the middle of next month.

He added: "I wouldn't expect games to be played, if everything was positive and promising, you wouldn't be thinking of matches being played until around about the middle of June."

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero said players are "scared" to return and Taylor stated it is their choice over whether they take to the field.

The long-serving PFA boss said: "Sergio is a top-class player and is entitled to his opinion of course.

"It's not a question of being scared, it's a question of being fully informed and for the relevant authorities to try and make sure it's as safe as it possibly can be to return, and to pick out any particular statements or choose any parts of that process is not really fair until we've looked at the whole menu."

Taylor added: "They are professional sportsmen and professional sportswomen and of course they are concerned about their own safety, they are not stupid and neither are they naive, so they have to be satisfied that it is safe to return and it is their choice."

Hopes are fading that spectators will be allowed into English football grounds before 2021 after a revelation from former Premier League club Bradford City.

Now in League Two, Bradford said they had suspended 2020-21 season-ticket sales after being told of an "ever-growing possibility" of having to play behind-closed-doors games until next year.

Bradford, who were last in the English top flight in 2001, said it was "highly likely" next season would at least begin with games played without fans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The West Yorkshire club's decision followed their involvement in a conference call with the English Football League (EFL) on Thursday.

Bradford said in a statement: "'City For All' 2020-21 season-ticket sales have today been suspended.

"The decision has been taken as the club continues to await further information regarding a conclusion to the current campaign, with the start date for next season yet to be confirmed.

"This comes following a meeting yesterday held between the EFL and the Bantams' League Two colleagues.

"City officials have recently been informed of the ever-growing possibility of supporters being unable to attend matches until 2021.

"And it is now highly likely that next season will commence behind closed doors."

The 2019-20 season stalled in March with the arrival and spread in England of COVID-19, and reports have claimed the EFL campaign could be abandoned because of the amount of testing that would need to be conducted just to allow closed-doors games to be played.

It remains to be seen whether the Premier League and EFL have joined-up thinking on matters such as playing games without supporters next season.

Although the Premier League has huge broadcast deals, which it is eager to preserve, clubs lower down the pyramid are facing a harsh reality of losing vital matchday income, amid fears many could be forced out of business.

The EFL has pledged to have rigorous coronavirus testing in place before its leagues resume in England, and insisted the return of football must not negatively affect key workers.

Reports on Saturday suggested Premier League football may return within weeks with matches taking place behind closed doors.

The UK government is said to have begun looking at proposals for the resumption of live sport as part of a bid to boost morale during lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The EFL said its own position regarding the return of action in the Championship, League One and League Two remains unchanged and that football will only resume when it is safe to do so.

An EFL statement read: "The position of the EFL remains unchanged in that the priority is to resume the 2019-20 season as soon as it is possible with matches only returning at an appropriate point and based on guidance from the relevant authorities. The health and well-being of the nation has to come first.

"Clearly, before any return to football can take place, suitable testing arrangements for participants must be in place and this is core to our current planning, as is ensuring there is absolutely no negative impact on the country’s front-line workers, the emergency services, league and club staff members.

"The EFL's medical advisor is working with a select group of medical professionals and sports scientists to ensure their collective expertise is utilised to address these issues. This group will consider the latest medical information and evidence from both in the UK and abroad, particularly around the viability and accessibility of the various COVID-19 tests that are currently available."

The EFL has been suspended since March 13 and the body's chairman Rick Parry said last week matches will likely take place behind closed doors with the intention to finish the 2019-20 season when it is deemed safe to do so.

Saturday's EFL statement added football can only resume successfully with a "collaborative approach with all stakeholders, including the Premier League and Football Association".

The scheduling of fixtures, promotion, relegation and the opening and closing of transfer windows are among issues the EFL said remain under discussion.

Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt and David Beckham. The names are synonymous with Manchester United but the iconic 'Class of 92' sextet are behind the rise of League Two outfit Salford City.

All eyes have been on previously unheralded Salford since the former United stars completed a takeover in 2014, with the help of businessman and Valencia owner Peter Lim, who is the largest single shareholder at 40 per cent. Beckham became a co-owner alongside the Neville brothers, Scholes, Giggs and Butt last year.

It has been a rapid rise for Salford - four promotions in five seasons seeing the club go from the Northern Premier League Division One North to the fourth tier of English football for the first time in the history of the 80-year-old team.

Salford are now a full-time operation, far removed from the part-time outfit purchased by the 'Class of 92' six years ago, but there is no intention of slowing down. Reaching the Championship by 2029 was the initial target, with Premier League promotion and a fairy-tale date with United the ultimate dream for the group of former Red Devils, who won the treble at Old Trafford during their illustrious careers in Manchester.

Cameron Burgess swapped Scunthorpe United for Salford on loan at the start of the 2019-20 season and the former Australia youth international, who reunited with Graham Alexander at Moor Lane, told Stats Perform: "You hear about how the club is run and the first thing you hear is ambition, success. That's what it is all about. It's not so much that we have the resources and we're this and we're that, it's just success and that's what we want and you need to help us achieve that."

"Some people expect our owners down there, almost on the training pitch everyday sort of thing," he added. "It's not like that. It's the same as every other owner, they're very hands-on with things they need to deal with. But we have a manager and assistant manager who've played in the Premier League, it's not like they don't know what they're doing. Everyone does their own jobs, it's like not David Beckham is down on the pitch taking free-kicks. They're as hands-on as they need to be from an off-field perspective."

It is an ambitious and exciting project in Salford, where the Ammies were the subject of a popular documentary, detailing their rise to prominence in 2015. And expectations are high.

"You don't have to be told [about expectations]. It's there, you can see it," Burgess said. "Previous promotions, plastered on the walls. It's all there for everyone to see. You definitely feel that pressure but it's pressure in a good way. It's everyone moving in the right direction and making sure we're successful. It's that pressure to meet expectations but in a good way… it's what you want and what you play for to be able to succeed. You feel that as soon as you walk through the door."

Salford are a club close to the hearts of the 'Class of 92'. Scholes was born in the town, Giggs was raised in nearby Swinton, while the Neville brothers grew up in neighbouring Bury.

The co-owners have overseen improvements on and off the pitch, transforming Moor Lane into a 5,100-capacity arena with four new stands, modern seating, executive boxes and corporate hospitality. But the investment has not been without criticism.

Some supporters were frustrated when the team's badge and colours were changed from tangerine and black to red and white. Salford have also been previously dubbed the non-League Manchester City for their spending. Gary Neville was embroiled in a public spat with Accrington Stanley owner Andy Holt in 2018 after being accused of "trying to steal" a Football League spot by signing Adam Rooney from Aberdeen.

"It's funny because obviously the people who criticise and say these things don't always know the full story and they don't know the reason behind things. It's all about the success. People on the pitch inside football, they probably know that a bit more, it's not that same vibe," Burgess said.

"We're sort of everyone's derby because they want to beat us and impress to show they can be the ones in our shirts. That's how it'll always be. The spotlight will always be on you, but you have to thrive on."

Salford were 10th in League Two and eight points outside the play-off positions when the season was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, vying for a fifth promotion in six years.

"It's definitely strange because we've never been in this situation before. It's like an off-season. We've been told and we're pretty confident the season will restart, so we're staying fit and keeping healthy," said Burgess, who is representing Salford in the EFL Football Manager Cup.

"At Salford, it's been pretty much business as usual. They've been great in taking away the outside noise and making sure we're just focusing on what we have to do. We've been working hard as a team on Zoom et cetera. It's keeping fit and healthy as best we can. It's been pretty enjoyable."

It has been a challenging and unusual situation for Burgess and Salford, with the squad training individually amid the COVID-19 crisis, but the former Fulham defender added: "It's been pretty interesting, especially for me. I'm one of those that if you get me out on the grass, everything flows. The competitive edge takes over, it's another world. Whereas when you're by yourself, you just have to be on it.

"We have these little Zoom sessions and challenges, but it's interesting to hear what's important. You learn a bit more because you have to know what you're doing and what makes a difference. When you're on the pitch, it doesn't really matter why you're doing it, you're just doing it cause it's going to win or get an advantage. We're doing movements on the grass you don't realise you're doing, whereas when you're by yourself, you have to keep on top of those things."

Page 1 of 2
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.