United’s Chief Executive Nigel Clibbens gave us an update from this year's EFL AGM held on 7 and 8 June 2017.
Each club is permitted two representatives and, in our case, I attended with Sales and Marketing Director Phil King.
John Nixon, the club’s Director of External Affairs, also attended and was directly involved in both his capacity as the League Two director on the EFL board and as the chairman of the EFL Trust.
The EFL issued a brief summary of matters from its perspective [click HERE to read their press release] last week.
The conference was introduced by the EFL non-executive chairman Ian Lenagan. He reported that the EFL had seen the largest crowds for nearly 60 years, a rise of 11% on the year before.
Clearly some of this was due to Newcastle United and Aston Villa joining the EFL but, even excluding the impact of those new clubs, overall EFL attendances were reported as being 3% up.
Here at Carlisle United our League Two average attendance of 5,117 was up from 4,838 in the previous season.
He also reflected on the past year, in particular the Checkatrade Trophy, Whole Game Solution and the EFL’s priorities for 2017/18 and beyond.
Ian told us that a priority for the EFL was to look to help clubs make more impact in their communities through the work of their local club Community Sports Trusts (see below). He championed the benefits of closer links between clubs and Trusts, both on day-to-day projects and in their overall direction.
A key role of the EFL was to bring more money into the English Football League to distribute to clubs.
The EFL Trust was the first organisation to present to the member clubs.
The EFL Trust is a national charity that manages the dedicated network of Community Sports Trusts associated with the 72 EFL clubs. For example, it uses the power of football to improve health, inspire education, reduce crime, increase participation and tackle many difficult social issues like drug abuse and homelessness across four key themes: Sport, Education, Inclusion and Health.
Together the EFL Trust presides over a combined annual turnover of over £50 million and 2,500 members of staff [see link: http://www.efltrust.com]. Their presentation was introduced by John Nixon, the EFL Trust chairman. He explained the developments taking place within the Trust, and highlighted some of its projects.
Then the EFL Trust Director of Operations Mike Evans then went into more detail on some of the projects and the impact they have around the country.
From our own club point of view, the Carlisle United Football Club Community Sports Trust (CUFC CST) is managed by John Halpin. Its board of trustees is chaired by Jim Mitchell, who is a CUOSC and 1921 board member. Phil King is also a trustee, as is Steven Pattison, our Holdings director, so we have very strong links already in place.
With John Nixon as overall EFL Trust Chairman, we are well placed to maximise what we do. CUFC CST is very well respected and award winning already and we are looking to do even more together through 2017/18. We are currently updating our plans to reflect that.
Click HERE for details about CUFC CST and the important work they do.
Chief executive Shaun Harvey went through developments and issues at the EFL.
Safeguarding at clubs was a main point of focus, in light of the serious abuse cases raised over the course of the last year. The position of the Sheldon Enquiry and actions taken by the league were shared.
Health and Safety and security were also covered, including policing and Safe Standing and Safety at Sports Ground regulations.
Shaun confirmed the EFL would provide £490k of funding to each League Two club in 2017/18 and we would also receive £450k directly from the Premier League as a solidarity payment. This excludes the £20k guaranteed Checkatrade Trophy participation monies, Academy EPPP funding and EFL Financial Futures funding. The direct funding from the EFL and the PL to CUFC is about a third of all our income, and for the first time will be more than £1m in 2017/18.
Domestic broadcasting was a major topic. The current SKY TV deal runs to the end of 2018/19 with an option to extend to 2019/20. It was confirmed the option would not be taken up and the rights would be put out to tender.
The owners and directors test was the next subject. Following a series of issues at a number of clubs, the EFL agreed to consult with clubs during 2017/18 to have a detailed look at the current rules and to consider if any additional measures should be put in place.
Clubs voted through changes before that, to tighten the rules straight away, in particular to specifically make the provision of false information when seeking to buy a club grounds for possible disqualification.
The requirement to play full strength sides in league matches was considered and rule tightening looks likely in future, but probably not until 2018/19 season.
Other subjects considered included the participants in the Checkatrade Trophy from the Premier League and draw arrangements. More information will come from EFL in the coming weeks.
Andy Ambler from the FA highlighted interesting developments they were looking at, including Video Assistant Referees, independent time keeping and changes to numbers of substitutes used in a game. Ideas to encourage and fund young Academy scholars who did not get playing contracts to move into refereeing were presented.
Clubs were then updated on media matters, including the new club web sites, iFollow and the ability for overseas based fans to watch club games on live stream.
Club’s were shown some examples of how to get the best from social media and video content. There were some very interesting points raised for us to discuss and look at as a club.
Part of the conference involves each division holding a separate meeting of its 24 clubs, where they can raise any specific concerns they share. Each meeting is chaired by the division’s board member and, in the case of League Two, by our own director John Nixon. League Two debated issues such as policing costs, where some clubs had major concerns.
Club’s agreed to share information about profit of player sales and EFL Financial Futures payments they each receive (where clubs get cash for starts made by under-21 players) to allow them to see which clubs benefit most financially under the scheme.
In 2016/17 we received £6,800 of the £304,000 shared by all 24 League Two clubs. The highest payment in League Two was £33k. In 2017/18 the funding pot for this scheme will increase by a third to £1m across the whole EFL.
League Two clubs raised concerns about the scheduling of late kick off times on the final day of the season, and for play-offs.
Annual General Meeting
Finally, at the AGM, a number of rule changes were approved, including:
- tightening of ticket pricing rules on ‘local’ promotions where home and away fans are charged different amounts.
- new criteria to ensure clubs joining the EFL from the National League have facilities of the required standard (with a particular focus on pitches).
- strengthening of Owners and Directors Test rules immediately (pending the full EFL review).
- allowing kick off times to be scheduled from 11.30am.