Today the EFL has unveiled its new supporter sanctioning guide, developed with the FSA, to assist its 72 clubs in dealing with supporter behaviour issues.
The guide seeks to help clubs deal with the small number of supporters that cause issues at their clubs and to improve standards of sanctioning across the country.
With the FSA’s input, the sanctioning guide recommends new communication protocols between club and supporter, an appeals system, education programmes and restorative justice programmes.
Bob Eastwood, the EFL’s head of security and safety operations, said: “The vast majority of football supporters show their passion for the team they follow in the correct way; however, the behaviour of a very small number of individuals presents a challenge for club officials across the country.
“Following the return of fans, after the disruption caused by the COVID pandemic, the behaviour of some supporters has been placed under the microscope, which has prompted questions about how the football authorities deal with incidents that are in contravention of ticketing terms and conditions or ground regulations.
“The EFL, with our long-standing track record for innovation, identified an opportunity to produce a new robust set of solutions for managing and dealing with supporter behaviour.”
Assistant professor at Northumbria law school Dr Ashley Lowerson, an expert in football-related law, also co-authored the new sanctioning guide.
FSA caseworker Amanda Jacks said: “Traditionally, a club’s default position was to simply exclude those supporters who have unfortunately behaved in an unacceptable way.
“But what the guidelines reflect now, and this is absolutely with the EFL’s support, is a recognition that clubs are not going to resolve this issue alone by exclusion.
“The guidance is quite heavy on the need for education and restorative justice – and a move away from this default position of a punitive response to a more holistic one.”
An executive summary of the guidance is now available alongside the full document for clubs, supporter organisations and supporters to read.
“The creation of the supporter sanctioning guidance will rebalance the rights of spectators and those of the football club. A process that is autonomous yet encapsulates proportionality and fairness,” Dr Lowerson said said.
Following a number of high profile incidents of disorder last season – with pitch incursions and pyro grabbing headlines – the football authorities have been working to address behavioural issues that emerged post-pandemic.
This was reflected in the 2021-22 football-related arrests figures, showing a rise, that were published back in September.
The FSA will continue to represent supporters in discussions with the football authorities to ensure football remains one of the safest mass-participation events in the UK.