With the Championship season re-starting in just 16 days time, RICH SHARPE looks at the issues facing second-tier clubs.

THE two most powerful warriors are patience and time. Equally time is money. And it seems there is no time for patience where money is concerned, with the Championship 2019/20 season to re-start on June 20.

For Rovers, they were always working to a mid-June re-start, and always expected the EFL to follow the Premier League’s lead. So when it was announced the top-flight would return, in full, on the weekend of June 20, it wasn’t a surprise to see the Championship follow suit.

Indeed, the EFL say that is an important part of the schedule to uphold the integrity surrounding promotion and relegation by working to a similar timeframe.

There has always seemed a league-wide view too that club wanted the league to be finished, and promotion and relegation decided, on the pitch, rather than on a computer spreadsheet and points-per-game.

But given that Championship clubs are a week behind in their preparations than the Premier League, many expected that to be reflected in the re-start date.

But as something of a bolt of the blue in the eyes of clubs and supporters alike, the EFL outlined its plans in a statement pushed out at 9pm on Sunday night, with clubs having not been made aware of the plans until around 40 minutes before.

If the timing of the announcement raised eyebrows, so too did the re-start date, for some.

Sheffield Wednesday boss Garry Monk said: “We are all taken aback about the return date. There was no prior consultation which was surprising.”

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QPR counterpart Mark Warburton added: “Ideally, we would have started a week later, on June 27. We have been one week behind the Premier League through this process, so you’d like to think we’d start one week later.

“To me, although that is still tight, it’s fine. But with June 20, they’re going to force it through. The extra week makes all the difference.”

His club have been the most vociferous, and public, in their criticism. The Rs chief executive Lee Hoos said they ‘vehemently opposed’ the schedule’ based upon the time between returning to contact training, branding the league’s decision-making process as ‘appalling’.

The timing of the announcement was also 24 hours after the EFL published the third-round of COVID-19 test results which revealed 10 individuals from eight clubs had tested positive.

That rose from three in round two, all of which were players, including Rovers captain Elliott Bennett.

Many felt that may have put the brakes on talk of re-starting so quickly, but the EFL weren’t to be perturbed, instead releasing guidelines this week for Championship clubs to return to full contact training.

Unsurprisingly promotion-favourites Leeds United and West Brom, as well as play-off chasing Preston North End, werethe first to reveal via social media they had stepped up their preparations having previously only been able to train in groups of no more than five.

Rovers will likely make that adjustment on Thursday, following the same schedule as last week with having Wednesday and Sunday as their days off, with their twice-weekly testing coming on Monday and Thursday.

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But that leaves just over two weeks between a return to anything like proper training to the first match, this on the back of not having played since the first weekend of March, and not being able to train since March 13.

This isn’t your average pre-season, and while friendlies have now been given the green light, albeit under strict guidelines, time is of the essence.

Rovers will certainly need to be quick out of the blocks to boost their play-off chances, with a likely schedule of hosting seventh-placed Bristol City and then travelling to strugglers Barnsley and Wigan.

The EFL initially outlined a 56-day schedule from the first game back to rounding off the season, all hoped to be done by July 31 to ease concerns over player contracts.

But as the coronavirus pandemic has continued to grip the country, and lockdown measures remained in place, that has had to be reduced to 47 days.

With nine games remaining, and a play-off schedule to fit in, there is little alternative than to do that with matches every three or four days. That is particularly tough on the smaller squads in the division, and given the unknown impact of the number of positive tests, and subsequent self-isolation period, which would see squads stretched to their limit.

Charlton striker Lyle Taylor is one player to have outlined to his manager, Lee Bowyer, that he won’t risk injury given his contract status and the prospect of a big move in the summer.

Injury was also highlighted as a concern of Town’s chief executive Gary Sweet.

He told The Athletic: “We are deeply concerned about the lack of discussion among clubs in the league before it was announced and seriously concerned about the intensity of playing nine games in a month. This clearly benefits those clubs who have bigger squads.”

Forget the playing of matches, and even training for a minute, there are huge logistical question marks hanging over the re-start.

Rovers, and their Championship rivals, have been able to prepare their training grounds in advance to make them as safe as possible for the playing squad, and members of staff.

But things will soon start to be out of their control once they leave the surroundings of their training environment.

In guidelines issued to clubs around friendlies, it is stated that they shouldn’t take place more than 90 minutes drive away, and players should travel in their own cars.

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But yet, that is impractical when the season re-starts. Rovers, for example, have away matches against Cardiff City, Millwall and Luton.

While the scheduling of matches is yet to be announced, and clubs unaware of kick-off times, the geography won’t change.

How are Rovers allowed to travel the 220 miles to Cardiff, can they do it by team coach, or by train? And when they get there, where are they going to stay? Where are they going to eat?

All three matches, whatever the kick-off time, would require overnight trips. And even the shorter trips to Barnsley and Wigan would previously have seen the players stay over the night prior to the match.

Will that have to be sacrificed?

More unanswered questions remain over how the behind-closed-doors matches will be available for supporters.

Ideally, Rovers would like to be able to stream matches to fans via the iFollow platform. With four remaining home matches left, a scenario where season ticket holders can watch them free of charge would be the preferred solution.

However, having paid for the broadcast rights, Sky Sports will certainly have their say. Usually matches that are being screened live aren’t shown via iFollow. Rovers’ home game with Leeds, previously scheduled for April 3, was set to be shown on Sky Sports, and if that remains a selected match, how would that affect those wanting to watch via iFollow? And would the platform be able to hand the increase volume of watching supporters?

Many of those issues are out of a club’s control, and they are reliant on the EFL providing the solutions, and answers, to their questions. Time is ticking on.