EFL to offer clubs guidance on how to tackle poor behaviour by fans

The English Football League is providing its clubs with guidance on how to tackle poor supporter behaviour in an attempt to standardise processes across all three divisions.

The ‘Supporter Sanctioning Guide’ was commissioned by the EFL and written by experts in football policing and the Football Supporters’ Association amid an increase in crowd trouble in recent seasons.

The guidance, which is being sent this week, aims to move clubs away from issuing bans in every circumstance and towards a case-by-case system and more proportionate punishment, such as education programmes and restorative justice. However, bans will still be recommended to be enforced where appropriate.

There has been an increase in poor fan behaviour since the coronavirus lockdown
There has been an increase in poor fan behaviour since the coronavirus lockdown (Steven Paston/PA)

All clubs will be encouraged to follow the same procedures so that there is consistency across the Championship, League One and League Two and they will get practical support from the EFL.

One of the authors of the document Amanda Jacks – a case worker at the Football Supporters’ Association – believes fans will prefer this process as opposed to the current ban culture that exists.

“This will help football clubs tackle behaviour in a holistic way and also give supporters the opportunity to go through a due process if they suspect them of wrong doing,” she told the PA news agency.

“They are a football club, not a courtroom and they have no legal obligation to put them through a due process but I think they have a very strong moral obligation.

The EFL are rolling out guidance to clubs this week
The EFL are rolling out guidance to clubs this week (Joe Giddens/PA)

“If the wider fanbase sees that a club is affording a supporter a due process, is prepared to work with supporters from an educational and restorative justice perspective, I think that entirely legitimises the process and supporters are far more likely to support that type of action and tackle bad behaviour rather than if they see their clubs acting as judge, jury and executioner.”

EFL Head of Security and Safety Operations Bob Eastwood, who commissioned the report, added: “The importance of this document is the impact it will have on the fans.

“They know that we mean business, but more importantly they can see how clubs are going to tackle bad behaviour, it is written by the fans for fans. I think it will have a big impact.”