EFL AND FANS TO MAKE A STAND
THE EFL have joined forces with the Football Supporters’ Federation as the bid for safe standing across English football’s top divisions heats up.
They have launched a campaign calling fans of EFL Clubs to ‘Stand up for Choice’ on the issue of licensed standing areas at stadiums and seek changes to the current legislation which imposes restrictions on EFL Clubs.
The Football Spectators Act, which was introduced in response to the Taylor report in the aftermath of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, requires all-seater stadiums in the top two divisions of English football.
Friday’s announcement will see the launch of a dedicated fans’ survey, which will provide key data and insight on the views of supporters nationwide in addition to the existing petition which has already illustrated the strength of feeling on the wider issue.
EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “We understand why the issue of standing at football matches is sensitive. The safety of all fans is of paramount importance to everyone, including Government, and they are rightly concerned about any change that could increase the safety risk
and then see them accountable for this.
“We recognise that to effect change we will need a partnership approach and this will commence with our survey to demonstrate that those who attend fixtures want to see the change and be offered a choice, even if they still choose to be seated. Our clubs and their fans should be part of the solution.”
Harvey continued: “The EFL would like to see current legislation reviewed by the Government and ultimately amended so that clubs have the opportunity to provide standing accommodation to their supporters at all matches played in the Championship, League One and League Two, should they wish to.
“There are 21 EFL clubs across our three divisions that currently offer licensed standing areas to supporters and it is unclear to us how such areas would be any less safe if operated on an identical basis at other clubs playing in the same competitions.
“Nor is the logic clear to us why clubs can offer standing in League One and League BACKING: Shaun Harvey Two but not to the same fans, in the same stands, at the same grounds after three years of playing in the Championship or above. If standing areas are licensed as being safe, they don’t become any less safe just because the standard of football being played on the pitch is different.
“By surveying fans, we will be in a position to provide Government with a clear indication of the strength of feeling amongst those supporters who attend EFL matches every season.”
Peter Daykin, standing coordinator at the Football Supporters' Federation, said: "Eighteen millions fans make their way to EFL games every season and the Championship is the third most attended league in Europe – theirs is a voice of experience which must be listened to within this debate.
“It's great to have such an important football institution engage so positively with the campaign, working hand-inhand with fans to make the case for standing at football."
Meanwhile, Harvey has given a cautious welcome to the news that Wembley could be sold to American billionaire and Fulham owner Shahid Khan for £600m, with the money being ploughed into grassroots football across the country.
Harvey told BBC Radio 4 that he has been assured by the FA that the EFL’s “five finals” – the Carabao Cup, Checkatrade Trophy and three divisional playoffs – would still be played at Wembley “regardless of the ownership”.
On whether selling the stadium was a good idea, he added: “On paper, the numbers appear to work out but the devil is always in the detail. I’m sure the longer debate will not be on whether to accept the deal but on how to spend the money.”
The standing survey can be accessed online via: www.efl.com/standupforchoice and EFL social media channels.
UNDER DISCUSSION: Wembley could be sold to Fulham owner Shahid Khan