Football supporters from the South and South West of the UK joined the EFL at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate last night for the final EFL Fan Forum of the 2016/17 season.The Fan Forums are part of the EFL’s ongoing commitment to engage with supporters across all three divisions, whilst giving supporters the opportunity to hear talks from leading representatives within the game as well as the EFL.
Former referee and PGMOL Head of Community and Engagement Chris Foy was joined on stage by Sky Sports Senior Planning Producer for the EFL, Sean Boyle. Both spoke in depth about their respective areas before entering a Q & A session with supporters.
Foy spoke first and his interactive presentation provided supporters with an informative look at the role of match officials, highlighting some of the difficulties they face during a game. He also spoke in depth about recent rule changes within the game such as the ‘double jeopardy’ scenario, the new offside rule, handball decisions and dissent towards match officials.
At the start of the season each Championship club invested £50,000 to enable Select Group 2 referees to become contracted, with the money helping officials in all areas of training including reviewing decisions, psychology and fitness. Foy’s presentation allowed supporters to get to the heart of refereeing as well as ask important questions about match official’s decisions during a game.
Supporters then heard from Sky Sports Senior Producer Sean Boyle, who explained how Sky are looking to enhance their EFL coverage as well as work with the EFL to bring supporters closer to the game. One particular subject is the new ‘five-week commitment’ that has been in place since the start of the season - an initiative to help give clubs and their supporters as much notice as possible ahead of a match selected for live television coverage.
During his presentation, Boyle said: “Our EFL coverage is hugely important and we endeavour to try and put the EFL, its players, clubs and supporters at centre stage.”
Supporters in attendance also heard from the EFL’s Director of Communications Mark Rowan and the EFL’s Competitions Manager Paul Snellgrove, who spoke in detail about EFL fixture selection and the working relationship between Sky and the EFL.
The evening then concluded with an open Q & A session between supporters and the panellists which led to plenty of questions for the EFL and Chris Foy, including questions which led to discussions on goal-line technology and video referees.
Supporters in attendance at Ashton Gate left with an improved understanding on various EFL topics of discussion, with one supporter saying: “Tonight’s session has given us plenty of food for thought. It was interesting to get some background to the fixture compilation and refereeing as well as meet fans from other local clubs.
“It’s important that the EFL is listening to our feedback as fans and I’ve come away with a better understanding of some of the complex issues that I might not have known about before.”