David Baldwin, who took up the role of EFL chief in June, has said he will leave in six months

The chief executive of the English Football League has handed in his notice, blaming the coronavirus pandemic and saying it is unrelated to controversial plans to restructure English football.

David Baldwin, who only took up the role in June, said he would leave the EFL, which runs the three divisions below the elite Premier League, in six months.

“Clearly, accepting this position pre-Covid-19 means the situation is now very different to the one I originally envisaged, coupled with it being a very different environment inside the EFL,” said Mr Baldwin, who joined the EFL from Premier League side Burnley, where he was chief executive.

“Taking those two factors into consideration and balancing the needs of my family, health and wellbeing, I feel the decision to leave is the right one.”

The EFL’s chairman Rick Parry has come under fire for proposing a radical restructuring of English football — called Project Big Picture — with the support of Liverpool and Manchester United, the country’s two most successful clubs.

The league said Mr Baldwin’s resignation was not linked to the restructuring plan, which has been criticised by the UK government and the Premier League.

Mr Parry said he was disappointed but respected Mr Baldwin’s wishes.

The restructuring would involve a £250m rescue for the EFL, where many clubs are said to be on the brink of collapse because of lockdown. EFL clubs cannot rely on broadcasting revenues as Premier League clubs do, earning much of their revenue from ticket sales instead.

Project Big Picture would commit the Premier League to sharing 25 per cent of its media revenues with the EFL. It would also reduce the top tier from 20 clubs to 18.

There would be special voting rights for nine elite clubs, including Liverpool and Manchester United, granting them the power to veto takeovers of rivals and changes to commercial arrangements.

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