Football supporters from across the south of England and London gathered this evening for the third and final EFL Fan Forum of the 2017/18 season. Held at Sway Bar in Covent Garden, supporters from all three EFL divisions were welcomed to an evening which was hosted by the BBC’s Mark Clemmit and featured a number of representatives from the EFL, includ PGMOL’s Chris Foy.
Previous fan forums were held earlier in the season at the National Football Museum in Manchester and Bierkeller in Birmingham, giving supporters the chance to come together and engage with the EFL, whilst discussing a range of topics.
The evening began with the EFL’s Director of Communications Mark Rowan, who gave an overview of the EFL and an update on recent topics including broadcasting, EFL competitions and safe standing, before handing over to PGMOL’s Chris Foy who discussed the role of match officials, covering handball decisions, red cards, simulation and the recent introduction of VAR.
The former referee’s interactive presentation provided plenty of healthy debate between supporters as they were asked to make a call on a number of tough refereeing decisions, giving an insight into the challenges match officials face week in week out in today’s modern game.
Head of Digital Russ Byrne provided fans with an update on the next phase of the EFL’s digital developments, primarily focussing on its new streaming platform, iFollow, which as of next season will allow fans to stream football both at home in the UK and abroad.
Michelle Robins then took to the stage, giving an insight into the great work that EFL Clubs and their Community Trusts’ do off the pitch, as they use the power of football to change people’s lives. She outlined some of the activity that takes place on a daily basis as football helps tackle some of society’s biggest issues across education, health, inclusion and participation.
The evening concluded with a Q & A between supporters and speakers, which also included the EFL’s Competitions Manager Paul Snellgrove and Supporter Services Manager Andy Pomfret.
Throughout the evening and in the Q & A, EFL representatives took a number of questions on various topics ranging from fixture scheduling, broadcasting, travel for away supporters and ticket pricing.
Valuing supporter feedback, the EFL also requested observations from those in attendance on the match day experience both home and away, how supporters keep in touch with their club and the EFL, as well as improved ways to encourage young fans through the turnstiles on a match day.
Tonight was the third and final fan forum of the 2017/18 season, and the EFL will be looking to engage with supporters again in the 2018/19 season.