Exeter City plan six friendlies ahead of new season including clashes with Torquay and Swansea
Exeter City have got six games against league and non-League clubs pencilled in for pre-season, although the uncertainty over when and how the new season will start means nothing has been confirmed just yet.
EFL clubs will meet on Friday to discuss when the new campaign will start. The Grecians favour a start date of September 12, but there is some opposition to that with some clubs keen on starting in October when supporters are expected to be allowed back inside stadia.
Their concerns are understandable, given how reliant lower league and non-League clubs are on matchday revenue, but a delay would mean more midweek games, or even running dangerously close to the start of Euro 2021.
Although there are few – if any - players in the lower leagues that would be involved in the tournament, Wembley Stadium is one of the host grounds and the EFL play-off finals are, of course, played at the national stadium, usually at the end of May.
UEFA rules state a stadium must not be used for a certain period before the start of a major tournament to ensure the pitch is in pristine condition, so it seems increasingly likely that the new season will start on the weekend of september 12.
Before that, though, City will undertake a six-game friendly programme with the possibility of a seventh game scheduled. Although Taylor says all that could change if the authorities decide on Carabao Cup and/or Leasing.com Trophy fixtures before the 12th.
We have six games lined up already,” Taylor said. “We are due to face Bristol Rovers, Swansea, Tiverton, Truro, Torquay and we have an in-house game planned and we are working on one last fixture.
We have a pretty hectic pre-season but, like I have said, if there are Cup games organised, then they will take priority.”
Although these games will be played behind closed doors with no fans in attendance due to social distance guidelines, it is a summer programme that sees City stay local and keeps travel costs to a minimum.
“That’s exactly what we tried to achieve really,” Taylor added. “It’s one of those where travel expenses are an issue, although we will be able to get a coach to the Swansea game.
“To play at the Liberty will be a great experience – it’ll be a strange experience, with it being an empty stadium, but it will be a great opportunity for our players.
“Bristol Rovers away – we have a great relationship with them and played them in pre-season two seasons ago and we try to keep those relationships with the local non-League teams.
“We obviously played Torquay a week before the season last season as well, so we feel we have good links with clubs in the South West.
“We tried to have a competitive pre-season organised and one that cuts down on expense as well and it is one of those where we have tried to please everyone.”
Taylor continued: “It’s just such a shame that the local non-League teams can’t get their fans in because I know it is a good source of revenue for them. But it is something we are looking forward to.
“The players need to know the games are starting pretty soon. They will have a slightly tailored programme when they come back to training at the end of this month and then, from then on, it’s going to be a case of the games are going to start and come thick and fast.”