The EFL held their 2016 Owners and Directors Conference in Portugal last week.“We had a really interesting few days. It is one of the very few opportunities during the season where all 72 EFL clubs can come together in a controlled environment to share information and best practice with colleagues,” explained CEO James Rodwell, who attended alongside Iron chairman Peter Swann and fellow director Karin Swann.
“It is a great way of networking and meeting other clubs in a non-competitive environment. This year was particularly “interesting”. There were a lot of dynamic subjects on the agenda.”
Ian Lenagan was officially ratified as the new chairman of the EFL on Friday, replacing Greg Clarke who left his post following six-and-a-half years in position.
Lenagan, who is the chairman of rugby league side Wigan, has been on the League’s board since 2013 and was unanimously recommended by the organisation's nomination committee.
“I know Ian personally and have sat with him on the League’s board,” added Rodwell.
“I was part of the nomination committee that actually selected Ian from a very strong line-up. A very thorough process was driven by the independent directors of the EFL and I’m delighted with our choice of chairman. Ian will lead the EFL very positively in what will be an interesting and demanding few years I’m sure.”
EFL clubs have also approved proposals aimed at tackling the under-representation of coaches and managers from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
The new measures, which will take immediate effect, include the introduction of mandatory new recruitment practices for coaching positions in Academy football and a Voluntary Recruitment Code in first team football.
Having given 'in principle' support to the introduction of positive action measures aimed at promoting diversity in coaching positions 12 months ago, clubs have now formally endorsed a set of proposals finalised during the 2015-16 season by a working party of clubs.
“This shows that the EFL is at the forefront of innovation and forward-thinking,” continued Rodwell.
“We have endorsed regulations that now govern our academy, and 10 EFL clubs have volunteered to be part of a trial at first team level to see how that integrates into the running of a modern day football club. We’re delighted that’s now been passed through.”
Clubs have also agreed to pilot a new format for the EFL Trophy as part of their ongoing commitment to creating more and better home grown players.
The one season pilot for season 2016-17 will include 64 teams made up of EFL League One and Two clubs, plus an additional 16 category 1 Premier League academy/under-21 sides.
Central to the competition will be the introduction of a new group stage format with 16 regional groups of four teams. The top two teams will progress to the knockout stages of the competition with the final staged at Wembley Stadium in April 2017.
Full details for 2016-17’s competition will be finalised within the next 14 days.
Rodwell said: “It’s a one-year trial, which is important to emphasise. I understand some supporters won’t like the ideas because a lot of people are suspicious of change, but if you don’t try something new how do you expect innovation?”
“The EFL have invited 16 Premier League Category 1 academies to join the competition in a different kind of format. For their home games, they will also have to play at their first team stadium.”
“The Premier League are putting £1-million towards this one season trial. I think the competition needs reinvigorating a little - attendances were down last season. The final itself is a special day for the EFL. It’s a great day out and competition for teams that reach the final, and fairly lucrative.”
“This is the EFL innovating once again. I’m quite excited about it. We at Scunthorpe United voted for it on the basis that it’s a one-year pilot and we’ll go from there.”
Finally at the conference, EFL clubs discussed the Whole Game Solution proposals put forward recently by the EFL Board.
The final decision in respect to these proposals will need to be taken by clubs in June 2017. Though this could be extended if that was the majority wish of the clubs.
Rodwell said: “We undertook an exercise as the League board about what the future could look like and we, as the EFL board, want to drive debate and be seen as dynamic, innovative and on the front foot in relation to the future of football for our clubs.”
“Numerous proposals were put forward to clubs, and they were really just for discussion and to stimulate debate. It’s something that’s impossible to vote on, these are just things that will morph and change, and the EFL as a whole took votes in their individual divisions to continue to talk.”
“Clubs will need a long time to discuss internally to see if there is a way forward. What it does show though is that the vast majority of EFL clubs are open-minded and quite happy to be at the forefront of the debate about the future of football.”
“We’ve sent the EFL Executive away to do much more research about the detail and this will be communicated to football clubs over the next 12 months and then we’ll see where we are, and will see whether any of these proposals in its current format or a different format are adopted.”
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