THE English Football League say they are "deeply frustrated" by the decision to postpone allowing fans back into grounds.

In a statement, chairman Rick Parry called for clarity from the government on the timetable for restarting the process.

Test events with 1,000 fans had been held successfully at seven EFL venues last weekend, but the programme has been put on hold by yesterday's announcement by Boris Johnson.

Oxford United have been among the clubs to ask for financial support in the form of a rescue package to help cope with a prolonged spell without gate receipts.

The EFL believe its 72 members will lose £200million in revenue if the entire season is played behind closed doors.

Talks are taking place between the EFL and the Premier League over financial support, and Parry is “optimistic” of finding a solution.

“Over many months we have helped the government devise, refine and pilot stringent stadium protocols designed to keep supporters safe,” Parry said.

“Staging professional football matches is one of the most heavily regulated areas of crowd management and any supporters attending EFL fixtures, in vastly reduced numbers, would have been required to adhere to social distancing and the rule of six.

“Therefore we are deeply frustrated that we will not be able to continue this work and, in doing so, gather the evidence to show that crowds can return safely to football and become an important financial lifeline for our clubs.

“Therefore, as a matter of urgency, we now need to understand what the government’s roadmap is for getting supporters back into stadiums as soon as it is deemed safe to do so.”

He added: “With extended measures introduced, it is imperative that the financial issues facing our Clubs are addressed quickly.

“EFL clubs lost £50m last season as a result of playing matches behind closed doors or curtailing the season and stand to lose a further £200m in 2020/21 should we be required to play the whole season without supporters in grounds.

“I am encouraged that the Government has recognised the need for urgent financial assistance for sport and discussions will continue with DCMS and the Premier League.

“We remain optimistic that a solution will be found but we should also be very clear that if it is not, then the outlook for many clubs in the period ahead will be very challenging.”