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Covid-19 protocols: FAQs

31 December 2020

The EFL and its Clubs are continually assessing the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, in order to amend and update all relevant training and matchday protocols and procedures.

In light of the recent emergence of a new strain of the virus, and to seek to continuously enhance the safety procedures used by Clubs to keep players, staff and (where permitted) supporters safe, a number of ongoing measures are being reviewed and implemented.

The following FAQs aim to provide some guidance for supporters on the current position regarding these matters.

What are the current Covid-19 testing requirements in place for EFL Clubs?

The EFL and Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) have confirmed they will be introducing twice-weekly COVID-19 testing for all 72 Clubs from Monday 11 January.

The re-introduction of a League wide testing programme follows the round of mandatory Coronavirus tests and is designed to complement the League’s recently enhanced matchday and non-matchday COVID protocols with funding provided by the PFA earlier this season.

Medical advice continues to support that following these protocols is the most successful route to mitigating against the spread of infection but given the emergence of a new strain of the COVID virus, it is acknowledged that additional testing where it is not currently happening may help with the early identification and isolation of asymptomatic individuals. 

What protocols are in place to reduce the risk during Training and Matchdays?

All Clubs are required to enforce strict protocols around training and matchdays to maintain safety and mitigate transmission of the virus.

The EFL’s stringent return to training and return to playing protocols are based on medical and scientific advice and, if followed correctly, are proven to help mitigate against the spread of the virus.

Each EFL Club has a COVID-19 operational policy with mandatory requirements to adhere to, ensuring the safest possible environment for staff and players.

The EFL’s matchday protocols also provide Clubs with information to support their practical obligations around the staging of matches, and ensure the safest possible environment for competitive fixtures.

All Clubs have a COVID-19 Medical Officer, who must be a registered medical practitioner and therefore ordinarily will be the Club’s Team Doctor.

The EFL regularly reviews its COVID-19 protocols and guidance in-line with Government advice.

What do recent Government updates, tier 4 restrictions and an increase in Coronavirus cases mean for Clubs?

In line with ongoing Government updates in regards to Tier 4 restrictions and the emergence of a new strain of Coronavirus, EFL Clubs have been reviewing and further strengthening their COVID-19 protocols to help minimise the transmission risk.

These Club protocols include such measures as the review of a range of Club facilities used, travel arrangements and contact time amongst squads and club staff.

The latest Government position is that elite sport can continue in Tier 4 and EFL continues to follow guidance as appropriate to ensure Clubs are taking all necessary precautions to avoid infection and chances of transmission.

Will the EFL consider enforcing a ‘Circuit Breaker’ and suspend fixtures for a period of time to combat a rise in Covid infections?

There are no plans to introduce  so called ‘circuit breaker’ to the league competition either on a divisional or league-wide basis.  We have always remained committed to delivering matches as long as it is safe to do so and have implemented stringent protocols at Clubs to help mitigate against the spread of infection. 

These are regularly reviewed and updated by our medical advisors and have recently been further strengthened in conjunction with the Clubs.

Football has played an important role during the pandemic, both in respect of supporting local communities and individuals’ mental health. We all want matches to continue as long as it is safe, which has been the approach from the outset.

How does the EFL monitor Club compliance with these protocols and procedures?

The EFL remains in regular contact with Clubs at all times to provide guidance on all Covid-related matters.

Funded by the Professional Footballers’ Association, the EFL has introduced visits to Club premises to assess their compliance with their own operational plans and risk assessments.

These visits, carried out in conjunction with the Sports Ground Safety Authority (SGSA), allow for an assessment of both training ground environments and Stadia on matchdays to understand how Clubs’ operational plans are working in practical terms.

What is the EFL’s position with regards to fixture postponements due to COVID-19 positive tests?

Under EFL regulations, it is the responsibility of each Club to inform the League that a fixture(s) cannot be fulfilled.

All circumstances surrounding a Club request are then subject to investigation in accordance with EFL regulations, with each dealt with on a case-by-case basis under the guidance of team doctors and EFL medical officers.

The EFL will work with the affected Clubs to rearrange any displaced fixtures at the earliest opportunity.

My Club was subject to an EFL investigation following a Covid-19 postponement. When will the outcome of the investigation be communicated?

Investigations remain ongoing and further updates will be made available in due course.

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