EFL Chief Executive, Trevor Birch, has reiterated the importance of the Sky Bet EFL Play-Offs ahead of this weekend’s Finals, and says he will be delighted to see supporters present at Wembley Stadium.
The action begins tomorrow with Brentford against Swansea City in the Championship and is followed by Blackpool against Lincoln City in Sunday’s League One Final and Morecambe against Newport County in the League Two Final on Monday.
Speaking at Wembley ahead of Play-Off Final weekend, Birch said: “I’m looking forward to it immensely. You can see the amount of work that has got into it from the staff, who work incredibly hard. The Play-Offs are the pinnacle of our season, so I’m really looking forward to it.
“This is the 35th season of the Play-Offs, so they’ve assumed a really important role. It’s a great format and it creates great excitement. From half-way into the season, everyone you speak to is talking about hopes of the Play-Offs, which keep the season alive.
“There’s a global audience for the Play-Offs, a household reach of almost 500 million, which is incredible. The Play-Offs are a great advert for the League.”
Last season’s Play-Off Finals were played in the absence of supporters due to restrictions imposed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, while this weekend’s matches will see fans present in limited numbers.
“Having watched many games behind closed doors, you’re almost lulled into a false sense of what the game is all about, but as soon as supporters were there, the dynamics changed completely and you realised what you’d missed,” Birch added. “I don’t think anyone will ever take it for granted again when they go to watch a game.
“To get 12,000 for the Championship Final is fantastic; we’d have liked more and we’d have liked them to be test events but, unfortunately, that didn’t happen. To have 12,000 in here, they’ll make a hell of a lot of noise.
“The test event results seem to have gone well and hopefully the Play-Offs will show that it can be achieved safely. We are hugely experienced as a League in terms of putting on big events and that should all stand us in good stead for the start of the season. Hopefully, touch wood, we’ll be in front of 100 per cent crowds again.”
The Play-Off Finals also follow England’s 33-man provisional squad announcement ahead this summer’s European Championships, with the majority of those included having previously played EFL football.
“I was looking at some stats and think 26 of the 33-man squad either had a debut in the EFL or came through an EFL academy. It just shows the vital role it plays within the pyramid and system in terms of giving players experience which enhances their careers.”
You can follow build-up and coverage of the Play-Off Finals on social media via #EFLPlayOffs.