EAST Lancashire Clubs will not resume their seasons until the start of next month – at the very earliest.

The FA, Premier League, EFL and Barclays FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship have taken the unprecedented step of postponing the professional game until April 3.

The move has been made after several clubs were forced to isolate players and staff due to the escalating coronavirus pandemic.

The suspension also covers academy and youth team fixtures with clubs also being asked to suspend any “non-essential” activities including players appearances and commercial activities.

Blackburn Rovers, Burnley and Accrington Stanley now all find their seasons on hold for at least three weeks.

“Whilst the EFL Board has continued to take the advice and guidance offered by the Government and its health advisors, emerging developments mean now is the time to implement football’s contingency plans in response to the crisis,” a statement from the EFL read.

“A further update on these plans will be given post an EFL board meeting next week.

“This decision has not been taken lightly, but the EFL must prioritise the health and wellbeing of players, staff and supporters, while also acknowledging the Government’s national efforts in tackling this outbreak.”

Rovers’ suspended Championship games are the home fixture against Bristol City on Saturday, the trip to Wigan on Wednesday night and the match at Barnsley on March 21.

An international break was then scheduled to follow on the weekend of March 28 with Tony Mowbray’s men pencilled in for a return to action at home to Leeds on Friday, April 3.

Burnley’s called off games begin with the trip to Manchester City on Saturday with the Clarets then due to head to Watford seven days later.

Sean Dyche’s side could get back to business at Crystal Palace on Saturday, April 4.

England Under-21s’ meeting with Turkey at Turf Moor on Monday, March 30 is also off.

Accrington Stanley chairman Andy Holt had been outspoken in his desire for his side not to have to visit Portsmouth on Saturday.

Pompey recently faced Arsenal in the FA Cup, their boss Mikel Arteta testing positive for the virus on Thursday night.

John Coleman’s men were also due to host Doncaster on Saturday, March 21 and Coventry on Saturday March 28.

Holt has gone as far as to offer season ticket refunds for the final five games of the season for supporters who do not want to attend games with some fans already understood to have got some money back.

Reds boss Coleman said he was ready for the decision and would continue to work with his players ahead of a proposed return at Gillingham on April 4.

“To be honest, I expected it,” he said.

“It has escalated quickly over the last few days and the awareness is bigger.

“It is out of our hands and you can’t spend too much time thinking about the ‘what ifs’ as you will drive yourself mad.

“All you can do is keep going and prepare for when the season resumes, which at the moment for us is a trip to Gillingham.

“It is an unprecedented situation and, while football is shutting-up shop for three weeks, you have got to be ready to go again so we won’t be shutting-up shop in training.

“We have to make sure we are ready for whenever our next game is. It is frustrating but health is more important.”

Ahead of the announcement Mowbray said at his press conference on Thursday that common sense had to prevail.

“I think we have to put public health first and foremost. I think we all understand that,” said the Rovers boss.

“We’ve all got parents, grandparents, children, people have got small children.

“Football is a sport. Football is more than a sport for a lot of people of course – it’s the highlight and the pinnacle of their week, supporting their team and following their team, and for footballers it earns them a living.

“But we’re all trying to do the right things. The government has to do the right thing, the football authorities have to do the right thing.”

Rovers have said tickets bought for postponed games will be valid for the rearranged date.

Should supporters not be able to attend then refunds are available.