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Fans hit back as EFL issue open letter on tougher measures over crowd behaviour

Fans have took to hit back as the EFL issue an open letter on tougher measures over crowd behaviour in the last few months.

We recently reported how the Premier League and EFL plan to tackle crowd trouble, finding ways to eradicate pitch invaders, by potentially using specially trained sprinter stewards wearing football boots.

Each top flight club have already been told they need to use ‘pitch runners’ (i.e quick-reacting stewards wearing appropriate footwear) to keep an eye out for fans who encroach the playing surface.

They are to also make sure the pitch runners have footwear which provides ‘the best grip for the conditions’. The chosen stewards should also be facing the pitch at all times, ready to race on should a supporter enter the field of play and be ready to jump on them albeit.


Dear EFL Supporter

Firstly, on behalf of all EFL Clubs I would like to take this opportunity to thank the overwhelming majority of EFL fans in England and Wales for your support through 2021/22.

In the opening months of the season, you dealt with the uncertainty of Covid protocols, Covid passes and Covid postponements through the winter, yet despite those challenges, you have returned to show up for your clubs in huge numbers once again.

Together you have been through the turnstiles almost 20 million times across our competitions and your support has been crucial to Clubs as they continue to rebuild their finances following a difficult couple of years.

This past weekend has seen a fantastic conclusion to the domestic football season that once again has provided no end of highs, lows and memorable moments for Clubs, players, and supporters all over the country.

The drama witnessed at Wembley Stadium over the past 10 days is something only the Sky Bet EFL Play-Offs can deliver, and we congratulate Nottingham Forest, Sunderland and Port Vale as they celebrate their successes and prepare to compete in the division above next season.

Almost 200,000 supporters turned up over the three days at the national stadium to support their team and the vast majority of fans demonstrated what excellent ambassadors they are for their Clubs and local communities – as they do, week in, week out, throughout the EFL season.

However, prior to these Wembley fixtures, on the final days of the season and in the Play-Off Semi-Finals we all saw that a minority of fans remain intent on demonstrating ugly and unacceptable behaviours at our games. While this is of course a mirror of our society, disorder and criminal behaviour at football only serves to tarnish our game’s reputation and impact the majority of fans who pay their money to go and watch the game in a lawful manner.

The pitch incursions we have all seen cannot continue. Let’s be crystal clear: It is a criminal offence to enter the field of play. Any supporter doing so risks being arrested and receiving a Club ban, a Football Banning Order, and a criminal record. The penalties for entering the pitch can also have significant consequences on people’s lives away from football, be that from an educational or employment perspective. Not only could you lose the privilege of watching your team, but you could jeopardise an academic future or lose your job and suffer financial difficulties.

Of course, the intentions of most supporters choosing to enter the pitch area in recent weeks have often been celebratory, but our priority must be to protect players, managers, and match officials. Everybody should be able to work without the fear of being attacked or confronted in the same way that anyone attending a football match would expect at their own place of employment.

While some suggest that pitch invasions are harmless in the main, the reality is that they are facilitating unacceptable behaviour by providing cover for the reckless few seeking to cause harm.

There can be no blurring of the lines or ambiguity with this matter. Simply put, the pitch is for participants and the stands for spectators. The EFL will be working with the various authorities on a series of measures during the close season to help reinforce that message and address the challenge that is being presented to the game.

As part of this work the introduction of tougher but proportionate sanctions will now also have to be considered with your respective Club in the early part of next month. For our part, we will need to discuss what further measures could be introduced for the new season, including the potential use of capacity reductions, financial penalties, or other similar mitigations.

The quickest and most straightforward solution to the problem is for all fans to think before they act and leave the pitch for the teams to play the game. That way there will be no requirement for authorities to get involved and everything can be settled on the field as it should be.

Despite the challenges we have all had to face, I am immensely proud to be CEO of the EFL. Over the course of the season I have visited many Clubs and watched many games and seen at first-hand some excellent football and amazing drama on the pitch alongside so much inspiring work off it.

While there is more work to do, I look forward to the period ahead as we seek to create conditions that will allow the League to thrive for generations to come.

Enjoy the summer.

Trevor Birch


Telegraph Sport say talks are planned over imposing stadium closures for the kind of violent pitch invasions.

Stadium closures

One senior figure in English football said: “The mantra is always, ‘You can’t punish the fans’. Well, hang on, yes you can when it’s the fans that caused it.”

The EFL also issued a statement on Wednesday warning it would consider “the potential use of capacity reductions or other similar mitigations”. English football authorities are allowed to impose such sanctions but they rarely use them. That is in stark contrast to FIFA and UEFA, with the latter having forced England to play next month’s Nations League game against Italy behind closed doors over the hooliganism at last summer’s European Championship final.

Points deductions

This is another sanction clubs face, which appears to be reserved for matters that could impact “the integrity of the competition”, such as clubs going into administration. Pitch invasions which cause games to be abandoned can fall into this category. In 2015, Blackpool were given a suspended three-point deduction over a fan protest that forced their Championship match against Huddersfield Town to be called off. We rarely see points deductions handed out for pitch invasions, but in light of recent events, it may just be back on the table.

A points deduction would definitely be the biggest disincentive to fans invading the pitch, especially en masse, particularly given such invasions tend to happen when a team has secured promotion or avoided relegation. But this last few weeks or so violence against players, fans and players have took place. Something we didn’t see much of for the last few years.


Fencing was erected at English football grounds to contain the kind of hooliganism that blighted the game in the 1970s and 80s, though this was got rid of due to the Hillsborough Disaster.

Hillsborough was caused by the police’s fatal decision to allow thousands of Liverpool fans to crowd into a terrace behind one of the goals, crushing them against the fences.

The odds of such overcrowding occurring at modern all-seater grounds with strict capacity restrictions are slim but could still happen. An alternative to metal fencing could be netting that would also stop coins, bottles and flares entering the field of play. Again we’ve seen a lot of stuff thrown, and netting may be the way forward, like we see in many stadiums across Europe.

Police and stewards

Some have criticised how much police is on patrol in and outside of stadiums, Oldham being an example of late. Others however would argue that it is time for football to spend more money on extra policing and stewarding, particularly for high-risk fixtures. An unbroken human ring of steel around the perimeter of each stand is something we’re seeing more of in football today.

Player strike

Considering pitch invasions are resulting in players being assaulted by fans, a case could be made that they are being subjected to an unsafe working environment and they would instead go on strike. Players are arguably football’s most influential figures and should be utilised in any event to convey the message that the scenes that have been witnessed recently will not be tolerated state the Telegraph.

As mentioned, fans hit back as the EFL issue an open letter on tougher measures over crowd behaviour…

@Adam_Hooper10: Sort your refs out 🤡

@Rogjw1014: Could he have a go at writing one about the standard of officiating in the football league as it’s unbelievably shocking

@SheepShagger111: Question your own behaviour 1st

My open letter to Trevor Birch,
You’re a cunt.

@bristolianeagle: Can he do one on referees too?

@_D_A_N__: Look a bit closer to home. The @EFL behaviour in the whole #dcfc situation has been a disgrace.

@Wa1shy21287: How about you fix the corruption first, refs in charge of towns/cities they were born in, awful refereeing even with VAR with no accountability at all.

@DCFCXXNR: Fuck off Trevor

@ijwilmer81: Yet more EFL nonsense, an absolute nothing statement. The entire organisation needs an overhaul and an assurance that they’ll be fit for purpose moving forward.

@ltfc_bible: so you plan to ban 1000’s of fans at once from football? that’s definitely going to work isn’t it Trevor

@su4eranio: Strange that priority doesn’t include protecting fans too?

@StewartCessford: Well if Trevor said stop pitch invasions that should do it 😂😂 plus are they really going to arrest and ban thousands of fans who come on the pitch at once

@markfromretford: Probably should have drawn some of them a picture, in crayon.

@BigRobAtkinson: Jesus lighten up. The invasions are either to celebrate massive club achievements which for many may be the only achievements for years. The other reason is protest against owners which THE EFL approved. Stop the stupid individuals not the collective

@Joseffffffffffw: The only thing that’s a criminal act is the standard of referees you employ year in year out, fuck off

@andyt72: Maybe stop allowing gobshites to own football clubs then!

See more of the following stories which including crowd trouble / interaction;

Benteke’s face grabbed by Everton fan | Zaha confronts taunting pitch invader

Viewers laugh as Everton fan smacks Joachim Andersen’s bum while kid swears at player

Patrick Vieira faces FA and police probe over kicking fan | Prem managers give verdict

New footage shows Port Vale fans PUNCHING Swindon players during pitch invasion

Port Vale manager sent off after touchline scuffle | objects thrown at McKirdy

Nottingham Forest thug named, shamed, and jailed for Billy Sharp headbutt

Sheffield United’s Oli McBurnie captured in video stamping on Nottingham Forest fan

Update given on Billy Sharp as police arrest attacker | Jack Robinson confronted by fan

Horrifying video shows Nottingham Forest fan run and headbutt Billy Sharp

Nathan Jones labels Huddersfield fans a ‘disgrace’ for what happened after final whistle

Three arrests made in away end for discriminatory gestures during Tottenham v Burnley

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