The EFL are taking a tougher stance on admission with a new league table strategy


Charlton, Bradford and Blackburn are among just 10 per cent of EFL clubs doing enough to tackle discrimination and open up football to underrepresented groups, the league’s diversity chairman has admitted.

The EFL is taking a tougher stance on admissions this season and hopes to double that number over the next five years, beginning with the introduction of a new system that gives clubs gold, silver or bronze ratings – or none at all those who fall below expectations – based on their success in meeting pre-agreed goals.

EFL Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) David McArdle is optimistic the new process, which will see results published in a ‘league table’, will drive more accountability across the 72 EFL clubs.

“At the end of the season we can say these are the challenges, that’s why clubs are struggling, these are the trends we’re starting to see,” said McArdle at the launch of Together, the new five-year tournament of the EFL EDI strategy.

EFL EDI chief David McArdle hopes to double the number of gold standard clubs by 2027 (Yui Mok/PA)

(PA wire)

“Then in order for us to influence the next educational material and the next challenges, we need to speak to more of the community on a different level, because that’s where our clubs are struggling, so we can do that.

“That responsibility becomes so much more obvious, there are a lot more opportunities. But it shouldn’t just be seen as a ticking exercise either, but as an opportunity for clubs to tell their journey.

“By going from bronze to silver [or] From silver to gold, they can tell a story and really make more of progress, not just the status quo.”

McArdle has taken into account the huge difference in resources and infrastructure between the top league teams and those newly promoted from the National League, a gap that aims to fill by allowing clubs to set their own individual goals and objectives.

These will be tailored to their specific communities and could range from increased engagement with minority groups to improving access for disabled fans.

The EFL itself will also launch initiatives of its own, including a partnership with Little Box of Books to make 8,000 books available to primary schools over the next five years.

McArdle said: “If you walked into a school library, you would only see mom, dad, brother, sister. Usually white. The sister wants to be a ballerina, the brother a footballer. If we want to try to change society, we have to change that.”

The EFL is one thing. The real difference will be the stories told in the clubs

EFL EDI chief David McArdle

The EFL previously assessed clubs every three years based on a one-tier code of conduct, which they either met or failed to meet. The organization, McArdle said, has “changed that quite significantly” under the new system, now on a two-year cycle, with this season being classified as a “development year”.

Blackburn, one of the clubs McArdle would award a gold medal if assessed today, appointed its first integration development manager, Yasir Sufi, in 2020.

Rovers’ research revealed that more than 30 per cent of the local population was of South Asian background, a number that rose to 60 per cent among the under-19s, but this was not reflected in the stands.

That changed after the club launched the Ewood Express, which takes young people direct from their schools or mosques to matches with teachers or volunteers for £6 including bus. At a game last season, 1,000 children used this service.

Rovers have also partnered with a local food supplier to ensure all concession kiosks have halal food, opened a multi-faith prayer room to be used on match days and established an alcohol-free zone after seeking direct feedback from the local community .

The EFL’s ratings are made public, McArdle said, not to name and shame them, but to encourage accountability or even copycat initiatives.

“Societies [will] see what others are doing,” he added. “We want people to be aware of that. We will provide means for clubs to use and promote this information.

“The EFL is one thing. The real difference will be the stories told in the clubs.” The EFL are taking a tougher stance on admission with a new league table strategy

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