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CLUB: EFL investigation outcome confirmed

January virus outbreak conclusion

12 July 2021

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak in January 2021 Carlisle United Football Club were unable to fulfil three League Two fixtures.

This meant the club was potentially in breach of two EFL Regulations, as follows:

Regulation 31.1

Any Club failing to fulfil its fixture obligations in respect of any match under the jurisdiction of The League on the appointed date or dates or causing The League to suspend any fixture shall be deemed guilty of misconduct, unless the circumstances giving rise to such failure are outside the control of the Club and could not have been reasonably foreseen or reasonably anticipated and remedied prior to the match.

Regulation 35.9

Each Club must comply with the Return to Training Protocols and Return to Match Day Protocol set out at Appendix 7. The League has the right to amend and/or replace the Return to Training Protocols and/or the Return to Match Day Protocol at any time provided that it provides Clubs with not less than 2 days’ written notice of such amendments.


Chief Executive Nigel Clibbens said: “As detailed in previous updates to fans, the EFL initiated disciplinary proceedings for breach of these Regulations.

“This is the same procedure that has been faced by many other clubs who also had to call off fixtures during that period.

“An investigation was conducted by the EFL which included detailed written submissions from the club, interviews with football staff about events in the run-up to the outbreak, and a review of all club football covid procedures. 

“The events at the Harrogate midweek away game, when the game was postponed due to a local power failure with the players held back on the coach for some considerable time, with the ground being out of use for safety reasons, were the central consideration.”

“The disciplinary process allows the EFL and club to mutually agree to enter an ‘Agreed Decision’ – where it is deemed appropriate – to conclude a matter effectively and equitably and without referring the matter to a Disciplinary Commission.

“Following a review of our submissions, and having considered the costs both parties would incur should the matter be referred to a Disciplinary Commission for determination, the EFL decided that it would be effective and equitable for the parties to enter an ‘Agreed Decision.’

“Again, this is a normal procedure, and one we agreed to as a club. As a result we pleaded guilty to a breach of regulation 31.1. 

“We accepted that no penalty be imposed either now, or suspended in future, for the incident. We agreed to pay the nominal costs of the investigation and ratification of the decision. 

“We thank the EFL for the way it has dealt with what was a very difficult incident. We have been scrutinised thoroughly, as expected, and dealt with fairly.”

“Throughout the last 18 months the club has taken an extremely serious approach to the potential dangers of the Coronavirus,” he concluded. “We have adopted a strict approach of compliance to following the requirements of the EFL and have consistently done everything within our means to keep the virus out of the building.

“That continues to this day, with many of the protocols from last season still in place. We are pleased this matter is now closed, with no penalty and a nominal financial cost, although, and as we all know, the sporting implications at the time of the outbreak were heavy and tough for us to take.”

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