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Football supporters meet with EFL bosses to discuss fan issues

EFL bosses recently met with fan representatives from the Championship, League One and League Two to discuss ongoing fan-related issues across all three divisions. The meeting, which was held in December, took place as part of the EFL's commitment to fan engagement and the notes from the meeting have now been published.

A variety of issues were discussed throughout the meeting, from the standard of match officiating to away matchday experiences for supporters. Below, we run through the key talking points and the agreed actions that the EFL have pledged to work on in the coming months.

Football supporters meet with EFL bosses
The EFL recently held a meeting with supporters to discuss fan issues – Icon Sport

EFL fan meeting: Key talking points

Officiating in the EFL

Referees, Kevin Friend and Ben Campbell joined the meeting to provide an update on issues relating to match officiating. The two officials stated that stronger action will continue to be taken to combat time wasting across all three divisions. They said that the multi-ball system has sped up the game and will continue to be used and that the documented added time from each match is available to be shared with managers after matches.

In terms of patterns, PGMOL have noted that there has been an increase in yellow cards late on in games for fatigued players delaying restarts. They expect this to change as players adapt their behaviour but they won't be softening their stance on things like kicking the ball away after a foul is given or holding on to the ball.

One notion that drew criticism from supporters at the meeting was the suggestion that VAR could be used for the EFL play-off. While Friend and Campbell said that select Group 2 referees regularly participate in VAR  training, supporters questioned whether it was fair on the players to instil VAR for a one-off game.

Green football weekend

Last year, the first Green Football Weekend took place and the EFL were pleased with how it went. Despite its success, only two clubs in the EFL have accredited status as part of the organisation's Greens Clubs initiative – Forest Green Rovers and Bristol City.

Supporters questioned the EFL on how they could help more clubs to gain this status. The EFL stated that they are engaging in ongoing dialogue with their clubs on how best to support green initiatives and that Forest Green Rovers were helping to support them in this.

Wimbledon fan, Tim Hillyer, suggested to the EFL that they should consider financial incentives to encourage clubs across the country to engage better with green initiatives and to include them in their core business plans.

forest green rovers fans
Forest Green Rovers and their supporters are an example to all when it comes to green initiatives – Photo by Icon sport

Fan safety

Leyton Orient supporter, Jonathan Kaye, brought up the recent experience of a medical emergency at the club's stadium, Gaughan Group Stadium, which resulted in a man's death. Kaye wanted to know if the EFL had conducted a review of the incident in which officials said they had been in contact with the man's family to discuss protocols.

Officials went on to say that a football stadium is one of the safest places for a medical emergency to occur due to the number of medical professionals on hand to help.

In terms of other safety concerns, supporters stated that bans shouldn't be the only option to address poor fan behaviour and instead, other strategies should be considered to promote positive behaviour. The EFL, meanwhile, believe that restorative justice can play a huge role in addressing anti-social behaviour, including tragedy chanting. As a result, they have undertaken a 10-club pilot project, to tackle certain poor behaviour in the stands.

Away match experience

The EFL acknowledged in the meeting that away fans' attendance is important in the Football League as they “generate atmosphere, elevate match experience, and provide additional revenue via ticket sales and secondary spend.”

Bosses stated that the EFL is looking at ways to provide further guidance for clubs in this area and is looking at putting together a list of best practices for clubs in relation to the away match experience. There could also be seminars in the future for EFL clubs to provide guidance on operational issues relating to away supporters.

Ticket pricing

The Football Supporters Association (FSA) have undertaken a review of ticket pricing which found that ticket prices in the Championship range from £20-47  while the average prices in League One and Two are £24 and £22 respectively.

With a new TV deal set to make kick-off times more difficult for match-going supporters, the supporters groups at the meeting believe now is the right time to put a cap on away ticket prices, similar to the £30 cap currently in operation in the Premier League. The EFL acknowledged this and have agreed to discuss the idea in the coming months.


Andy Delaney

Andy is a freelance sports writer with ten years of experience covering major sporting events across Europe. He has also been a season ticket holder at Old Trafford since 2008 and has visited over 40 football stadiums in the United Kingdom and abroad following the Reds.

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