Ian Lenagan made his inaugural address as new EFL Chairman at the annual Supporters’ Summit at Wembley Stadium, focusing on a number of key issues including supporter engagement, accessibility in stadia and the proposed changes to EFL competitions.
Outlining recommendations from the Government Expert Working Group’s report on Football Supporter Ownership and Engagement, Lenagan confirmed at the conference, hosted by the Football Supporters’ Federation (FSF and Supporters Direct (SD), that all EFL clubs will now be required by regulations to meet with fan representatives at least twice a year as part of a wider commitment to ensure structured dialogue occurs regularly between supporters, clubs and relevant authorities.
On accessibility in stadia, the new Chairman announced details of the EFL’s plans to improve the matchday experience for disabled fans working in partnership with the Government, Level Playing Field and other external stakeholders to ensure that clubs meet their legal responsibilities to fans in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.
Discussing proposed changes to this season’s EFL Trophy and the league pyramid’s future structure, Lenagan presented details to attendees before answering further questions from panel host Owen Gibson, Chief Sports Reporter, The Guardian, and the audience.
While considering the possible ‘Whole Game Solution’ put forward for discussion by the EFL Board to create an extra division and expand the English league pyramid from 92 to 100 teams, it was reiterated that proposals were to prompt discussion amongst clubs and stakeholders. Fans were assured that extensive consultation would continue amongst clubs and other stakeholders before any vote might be taken at next year’s AGM.
As the focus shifted to format changes for this season’s EFL Trophy, designed to re-invigorate the competition and support home grown player development, it was confirmed that changes will be trialed for one season then reviewed.
Commenting, Ian Lenagan said: “I was delighted to make my first official address here as EFL Chairman at the Supporters’ Summit. It is really important that football clubs and authorities continue to engage with fans on some of the game’s most pertinent issues.
“I’d like to thank all those fans who took part in the weekend’s discussion and I personally look forward to continuing a meaningful open dialogue with EFL fans up and down the country over the course of my Chairmanship.
“Many will agree there has been some important progress in this area in recent years but I’m sure we all equally acknowledge that there is still plenty to do.”
Malcolm Clarke, Chair of the FSF, said: “We were delighted that Ian Lenagan chose the Supporters Summit for his first public engagement as the incoming Chair of the EFL, and that he tackled the current issues, including the controversial ones, head on, and was willing to engage in dialogue with our members.
“We wish him well in his new role and look forward to a constructive relationship with the EFL under his chairmanship.”