English football welcomed the Online Safety Act receiving Royal Assent today in Parliament
Kick It Out, the Football Association, Premier League, English Football League and the PFA have been working closely with the Government and parliamentarians to ensure that the Online Safety Act (OSA) effectively tackles racist and other discriminatory abuse online and better protects users on social media platforms.
Online abuse in football has risen significantly in recent years, but new laws passed by the Government should offer some hope to all those who participate in football. Change will take time, but it’s a big step in the right direction to make everyone in football feel safer online.
We still need to ensure that law enforcement tackles perpetrators of online abuse and we urge the Government to ensure that the independent regulator, Ofcom, has sufficient powers to hold social media companies to account. In time, the OSA will introduce new tools to help users avoid discriminatory abuse. But social media companies don’t need to wait. They can introduce better tools right now so that users are free from unwanted and damaging discrimination.
The English Football League (EFL) is pleased to announce partnership extensions with global sports brand PUMA and world’s leading football management simulation title, Football Manager.
The dual partnership extensions demonstrate the EFL’s commitment to partners in its portfolios, with both brands continuing long association with the League, its clubs, and its competitions, including the Sky Bet Championship, League One, League Two, Carabao Cup and EFL Trophy.
After signing on as the Official Match Ball partner of the EFL since the beginning of 2021/22, PUMA’s three-year extension will see the global brand produce the official match ball for all EFL competitions through to the end of the 2026/27 season.
PUMA has delivered 10,000 FIFA-approved International-standard match balls each season to the EFL and EFL clubs. This season’s PUMA Orbita ball design includes an 8-panel ball configuration, a reduction from last season's 12-panel design. These larger panels provide a better connection with the ball, enhancing players' touch and control.
These include the re-introduction of the high-vis fluorescent yellow balls used in EFL matches and competitions between November and the end of February, as well as Play-Off specific footballs to be used in all EFL Play-Off Semi-Final and Final matches.
While PUMA have grown their portfolio of global football properties in recent years, including Serie A and La Liga, the brand has entered into a number of UK focused partnerships and work with ten EFL Clubs spread across all three divisions.
The one-year extension between the EFL and Sports Interactive, developers of the Football Manager game, ensures that all EFL clubs and competitions will continue to appear as fully licensed entities in Sports Interactive’s next release, Football Manager 2024.
After first partnering back with SEGA – of which Sports Interactive are a subsidiary of – back in 2004, EFL has granted Football Manager Official Licensee status since 2014.
Since extending for a six-year term, the EFL and Football Manager have enjoyed numerous joint campaigns including the EFL Football Manager Cup during the COVID-19 lockdown, the #FromSofaToStadium campaign to celebrate the return of fans to football post-lockdown, and the FM23 EFL Trophy Challenge.
Last season’s FM23 Challenge spanned two months and culminated with FMFC member and Bolton Wanderers fan Ian Fraser winning the opportunity of a lifetime to present the EFL Trophy to captain Ricardo Santos at Wembley in April.
EFL Chief Commercial Officer, Ben Wright said: “We have sought to partner with brands where we can develop and cultivate our partnerships and create deeper, more impactful connections with fans, customers, and communities.
“PUMA are one of the world’s leading brands and have a distinct visibility not only on competition match days, but also support some of our EFL and EFL Club’s programs and initiatives through apparel and footballs.
“Our partnership with Football Manager has also exemplifies our commercial portfolio objectives. The numbers of people playing Football Manager and engaging with EFL clubs is testament to the ever-growing popularity of the EFL.
“We thank both PUMA and Sports Interactive for the ongoing relationship and helping to continue engaging fans for this season and beyond.”
General Manager of UK&I at PUMA, Bas van den Bemt said: “Continuing our partnership with the EFL symbolizes PUMA's dedication to the heart and spirit of football in the UK. Since 2021, we've been honoured to be the Official Match Ball partner for the EFL, and this extension is a testament to the strong bond we’ve cultivated with the League, its clubs, and most importantly, the fans.
“Here’s to more shared moments, goals, and memories in the seasons to come.”
Studio Director at Sports Interactive, Miles Jacobson said: “We are delighted to announce the renewal of our partnership with the EFL.
“The League’s clubs are among the most popular with our players; in FM23, more than 40 million games were played with EFL clubs across 1.5 million unique careers. After three terrific Play-Off finals back in May, we’re looking forward to the start of the season and continuing our partnership with the EFL.”
A year on from the EFL’s launch of the ‘Together’ strategy, the EFL's Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, David McCardle, has provided an update on the strategy and the impact it is having across the EFL and its Clubs.
Twelve months ago, the EFL launched its new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy to aid Clubs in taking steps on their EDI journey.
This month, we mark the one-year anniversary with the launch of a new short film highlighting the diverse nature of supporters across the League with the key message that we are Together for the love of the game. In addition, we have highlighted the good practice which has been undertaken by EFL Clubs throughout the 2022/23 season in conjunction with the Together Strategy.
‘Together’ set out a clear five-year vision for the EFL and its Clubs to reflect and represent the communities they serve.
Following the launch of the EFL Together strategy in August 2022, all 72 Clubs have made a contribution to breaking down barriers and improved their processes and outlooks, leading to sustainable change, which will allow greater diversity.
Involving 100 hours of consultations with Equality Stakeholders and 100 hours of Club Development meetings, the strategy has seen great success during the 2022/23 season.
Together comprises five pillars: Support, Educate, Communicate, Embed and Listen – all of which have been covered over the course of last campaign.
Last term saw the refreshed EFL Equality Code of Practice which was a key deliverable within the Together Strategy and will allow the opportunity for EFL Clubs to have a continued EDI journey.
Clubs throughout the EFL undertake the Code’s which assesses work, learning, development and commitment to EDI and provides a grade of Bronze, Silver or Gold after review. Throughout season 2022/23 the EFL supported each of its Clubs during the development phase in preparation for every Club being assessed during the 2023/24 season.
To support the creation of a League-wide diverse workforce, the EFL has also launched I-Recruit which is an anonymised recruitment tool for Clubs.
Across the EFL there are over 65 diverse fan groups, some of which have been established with support of Fans for Diversity. In addition, Clubs have also been supported in the establishment of a new Discrimination Reporting mechanism.
The EFL’s Inclusion Team – along with Stakeholders, EFL Clubs and Football Bodies – delivered 48 online webinars for EFL Clubs and EFL Staff to attend during the 2022/23 season. Clubs have completed over 6,500 collective hours of EDI Education, which exceeded the initial target of 1,000 collective hours each season for the next five seasons.
And in May 2023, a number of conferences to help support Clubs and to share best practice were held. All three conferences hosted over 100 delegates with guest speakers, Club and fan experiences in focus.
More recently, the EFL Together Advisory Panel has set progress in motion for a new panel which will act as a forum for advice, guiding the work of the EFL by providing advice of the highest possible quality on issues relating to Equality Diversity and Inclusion.
And the EFL and our Clubs are not finished in this journey. The hard work continues into the new season when all of the aforementioned tools and services will continue to support Clubs to make an impact and drive change.
Reading Football Club has today received a one-point deduction with a further three points suspended after an Independent Disciplinary Commission determined that the Club had breached EFL Regulations.
The breaches related to the Club having failed to pay its players’ wages on time and in full on or around 31 October 2022, 30 November 2022, and 28 April 2023.
Reading’s 2023/24 League One points tally will be adjusted immediately whilst Owner Dai Yongge has also been fined £10,000 and ordered to deposit an amount equal to 125% of the Club’s forecast monthly wage bill in a designated Club account, in an attempt to avoid further breaches.
If the 125% deposit is not paid within 28 days of the Independent Disciplinary Commission’s decision or there is any further failure to pay players’ salaries up until 30 June 2024, then the suspended points sanction will be activated.
The EFL remains extremely frustrated at the consistent failures of the Club’s ownership to meet its ongoing obligations under EFL Regulations, the consequences of which are having a negative impact for all those associated with Reading, particularly its staff members, supporters, and local community.
Whilst we acknowledge the independence of the commission and the sanction imposed, this outcome does fall some way short of the League’s existing sanctioning guidelines. The EFL will now undertake a full review of the decision issued, taking into consideration the recent previous sanctions imposed on the Club and their subsequent impact.
The Independent Disciplinary Commission’s Written Reasons can be viewed here.
The English Football League today confirms that it has been working on an innovative proposal titled ‘Project Big Picture’ with a number of Clubs in the Premier League that looks to reset the economics and governance across the English football pyramid and in the process, protect the game in both the short and long term.