Barnsley's players are likely to spend at least one more week away from Oakwell after the season was suspended further until April 30.
Players and coaching staff have not been in training this week with the coaches communicating with the squad remotely while the players are following personal fitness and training regimes. Training for the first team squad was due to restart on Monday but the suspension was extended from April 3 to the end of the month. The stadium is currently in the process of being ‘deep-cleaned’ by a cleaning company, as a precaution.
The EFL and FA have said the season will be extended ‘indefinitely’, even if that means behind-closed-doors games or playing into the summer months, rather than declaring the season ‘void’ or treating the current table as final. The 2020 European Championships – in which Barnsley’s Aapo Halme was hoping to represent Finland – have been moved back a year.
The season had been due to finish on May 2 and there are nine Championship matches remaining. Barnsley are currently bottom of the table, seven points adrift of safety. Chief executive Dane Murphy said this week that the club’s preference is to play the remaining games by the deadline of June 30.
He said: “We believe the games should be played. “Whether that is behind closed doors or with fans, that is up to the government and the EFL. We would want that even if we could benefit from the season being declared void.”
Murphy added that the club remains in a stable financial position, despite potential loss of matchday revenue. The EFL announced on Wednesday a £50million fund for its clubs which comes from advanced payments of their ‘basic awards’ and no-interest emergency loans. Championship clubs are entitled to a £800,000 award and a £584,000 loan.
Barnsley’s non-football workers have been reduced to a skeleton staff and the club is considering whether or how to reimburse others for loss of earnings. That also relates to the matchday staff, many of whom are brought in by other companies. The club’s academy is currently shut down, while the under 23s and under 18s games are suspended until April 30 as well as younger age groups.
The Reds’ matches at Queens Park Rangers on Saturday and at home to Millwall on Tuesday were both cancelled as well as tomorrow’s home game with Blackburn Rovers after the EFL postponed all fixtures for three weeks. The increased suspension has cancelled the trip to Stoke City on April 4, the Easter games against Luton Town and Wigan Athletic, the match at Leeds United on April 18 and the final home game against Nottingham Forest on April 25. The Reds were due to complete their season at Brentford on May 2 but that is now their only fixture not officially postponed.
Should the season extend into June and July, a major issue would be players’ contracts. The majority of the Reds’ first team squad are tied down to deals beyond this season but the contracts of goalkeeper Sami Radlinger and loanee defender Kilian Ludewig are due to expire at the end of June. The same is true of defender Dani Pinillos and winger Mamadou Thiam but they are both not part of head coach Gerhard Struber’s plans and have not played a first team game since September.
Some Barnsley players have sent messages on Twitter since the first suspension of games. Conor Chaplin said: “See you all soon. Stay safe and be responsible.” Luke Thomas added: “Football cannot come first right now. We have to think of the health of everyone now. So be safe, be careful and see you all soon Reds.”