The EFL was very disappointed to learn that eight of its clubs had failed to provide a response to enquiries made by Clive Sheldon QC as part of his Independent Review.Having been made aware of the situation by the Football Association on 11th May, the EFL immediately made contact with the relevant Clubs and secured a response. The EFL is satisfied that its clubs were not seeking to 'obstruct' the process but acknowledges that the failure to respond within the given timeframes created unnecessary speculation and was unhelpful. All 72 clubs will once again be reminded that the EFL expects their full co-operation with the Review.
The EFL has engaged fully with the Review to-date and continues to do so. Members of the EFL Executive met with Mr Sheldon on 24th February where it was acknowledged that while the Review was independent, the EFL was best placed to assist in securing a response from its clubs, as achieving a 100% response rate was of paramount importance. The offer to intervene was not taken up directly and the first the EFL was aware of a potential issue was on the 11th May. By Friday 19th May, and with no detriment to the objective of the Review, all 72 clubs had responded.
As Mr Sheldon stated on 8th May to the FA: "The key thing for me, of course, is to get their response. And the sooner the better, so that the Review team can follow up any disclosures."
In these circumstances, the FA should not be expected to name the eight clubs, nor should its Chairman be criticised for a lack of transparency for not doing so, in what is an independent review. Any decision to reveal the identity of the eight clubs should, quite rightly, be at the discretion of Mr Sheldon.
The final report will determine if the delay in providing a response was anything other than an unfortunate administrative oversight. Again, it should be left to Mr. Sheldon to determine this as part of his Review.
The safety of young people at our clubs remains a priority for the EFL and the work in this area continues on a daily basis.