THE English Football League has announced a £50million short-term relief package for clubs struggling with the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

All EFL fixtures are suspended until April 3 at the earliest and clubs may not be able to return to action until well after that date.

The EFL says the intention is to play the 2019-2020 season to a conclusion.

But the lack of matchday income over the next few weeks and months will hit many lower league clubs hard and those concerns were discussed at today's EFL board meeting.

An EFL statement said: “The EFL Board met today to discuss the implications of the COVID-19 outbreak for the League and its clubs.

“After receiving a detailed brief on a number of matters, the Board reaffirmed that the health and well-being of EFL staff, players, club employees and supporters would remain central to all decisions in these fast-changing circumstances.

“The EFL Board also acknowledges the positive role that member clubs are playing in community solidarity, especially in supporting the vulnerable at this time.

“The primary objective, in order to protect competition integrity, is to deliver a successful conclusion to the 2019-2020 season, subject to the over-riding priority around health and well-being.

“Plans continue to be developed on the agreed principle that it is in the best interests of the EFL and clubs to complete the current season at the appropriate time.

“The EFL is continuing regular dialogue with the government and relevant health authorities and, as and when more information is known regarding the scale and extent of the coronavirus outbreak in this country, a decision will be taken on the resumption of the League’s fixtures.

“Conversations will continue with the EFL’s counterparts at the FA, the Premier League, the PFA and the LMA to ensure football achieves a joined-up and collaborative approach.”

The statement continued: “As part of the League’s continued contingency planning, the Board heard the comments and observations from EFL clubs, before discussing a number of issues including the current financial position and implications, insurance, regulatory matters and broadcasting arrangements.

“Discussions centred on financial relief for clubs in the short term and while there is no one single solution, measures are to be put in place to immediately assist with cash flow via a £50million short-term relief package.

“This fund consists of the remaining Basic Award payments being advanced to clubs immediately, with the remainder made up through interest-free loan facility available to clubs, calculated in line with the EFL’s Article of Associations.

“The cash injection is included as part of a series of measures, that includes potential government support to help clubs and their associated businesses through this period of uncertainty.

“The EFL welcomes the announcement made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer and is continuing discussions to understand how our clubs can access the funding made available to support businesses. In addition, we will continue our discussions with our football partners to determine how we can all get through this unprecedented situation.”