The EFL today issued a message to fans from CEO Dave Baldwin, explaining at length the current situation on a return to football for fans. Read it here
Setting aside the important content of this message, outlining some of the key issues, the financial challenges facing clubs, and the EFL’s desire to get fans back into grounds as soon as they can – as safely as they can – communicating like this is important at all times. At a time like this, it’s an even more important thing to do, especially for a competition that is more reliant on matchgoing fans.
This crisis has underscored the importance of fans, not just in the vitality they bring, but the critical financial contribution they make to clubs at all level of the EFL. In fact, the same could be argued of The Premier League for the hundreds of millions lost to their clubs from March onwards this year. The idea of not worrying about gate receipts is now for the birds.
Yet it wasn’t many years ago that someone in a very senior position at the EFL suggested that they had no ‘fans’ – and that by implication, fans had no real interest in the EFL itself, when the opposite is the case: fans are critical stakeholders in the EFL – and Premier League. So it follows: the more that the leadership get fans onside, the better it is for them, and the greater understanding it builds with fans.
The leadership of the EFL will always receive a lot of criticism for things that happen in football. It’s par for the course, but when they communicate in this way with fans, and show they’re thinking of the difficulties they’re having, it builds bridges, and reduces tension. You don’t need to be a Fan Engagement guru to know that. You just have to be human.