CHAIRMAN Mike Garlick has praised the continuous efforts on and off the pitch to keep Burnley competitive in the Premier League, despite the challenges caused by coronavirus.

It is five months since supporters have been able to watch the Clarets in the flesh, but Garlick said the club was working hard in preparation for a time when fans can return.

He feels Burnley's 10th placed Premier League finish last season was all the more impressive given the obstacles, but it is a feat they are looking to build on as they look to the future at Turf Moor.

In a statement on the club's official website, Garlick said: "With today’s release of the fixtures for the 2020/21 season we can look ahead in earnest and continue to plan in detail for the future on and off the pitch at Turf Moor.

"There are still numerous challenges to face around the on-going effects of Covid-19. But work - operationally and football-wise - is well under way to help us overcome the obstacles in the manner we did at the end of last season, which I believe was a great success.

"To finish in the top 10 in the Premier League for only the second time in the club’s history, setting a number of new milestones along the way, was a magnificent achievement and great credit goes to the manager, his coaching staff and all the players.

"Behind the scenes there was also a tremendous effort from staff to allow football to go ahead and the club to function in extremely testing times and I thank them for that.

"That is on-going and I can assure all supporters that we are working very hard to ensure the club and the team – preparation and personnel-wise – is ready for the new season."

He added: "As we know, the 2020/21 Premier League programme will again start with behind-closed-doors fixtures.

"But every effort is being made to get supporters back into grounds as quickly and safely as possible.

"The UK Government has stated that October will be the earliest opportunity for supporters to head back to football stadiums.

"As yet, the club does not have any definitive decision on what level of attendances will be permitted in the shorter term.

"But I know you are as keen as I am to see Burnley fans back at Turf Moor and the club continues to have dialogue with the Premier League and all relevant authorities to try and reach the best outcome.

"Rest assured that staff are working tirelessly in the background to cover a number of scenarios and ensure that systems and protocols are in place to allow fans back to Turf Moor in a fair manner when safe to do so.

"As soon as we have further details regarding timescales and potential attendance figures we will pass this information on to supporters and act accordingly.

To that end, our Chief Executive Officer Neil Hart continues to meet with the Burnley FC Supporters’ Board as the vehicle for communication and consultation with supporter groups and that will remain an on-going process.

Garlick also praised those who had continued to support the club by other means while attendance is not yet permitted, and for the community spirit demonstrated from the moment lockdown was imposed.

"I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to all of you for your continued support over such a difficult period when you have not been able to be present at matches and back the team in person," said the Burnley chairman.

"It has not gone un-noticed and I believe has remained a significant factor in helping Sean’s side continue to compete so impressively at the highest level.

"I am also aware of the large number of Burnley supporters who offered their time and efforts to volunteer or donate to various programmes and schemes to help the town’s community efforts during and post-lockdown.

"One clear example is the thousands of donations made to the town’s foodbank, supported by the football club and operated by our community team, which have helped provide essential food parcels to those who needed them most.

"This makes me incredibly proud that we continue to demonstrate our ‘One Club’ mentality in even the most challenging times.

"Thanks once again and I look forward to seeing you back here at Turf Moor, hopefully in the not-too-distant future."