In the ongoing saga of Roland Duchatelet’s supposed sale of the Club, the role of the English Football League (EFL) has come under increasing scrutiny by frustrated fans.
In particular it is not at all clear whether, if at all, a proposed sale is stuck awaiting clearance of buyers under the EFL Owners and Directors Test (ODT). The issue for CAST (indeed for all Trusts and any other fans) is that the EFL currently does not recognize that it has any obligation to inform fans about progress of ODTs or any other aspect of a proposed sale. Indeed the EFL has gone to greater lengths to impose a blanket of silence over ongoing transactions after details of recent sales were leaked prematurely to media. No fan group has so far managed to have any meaningful dialogue with the EFL about the sale of its club nor the ongoing stewardship of their clubs by existing owners. The EFL in short considers that it is answerable only to its “members” – the 72 club owners.
However Blackpool Supporters Trust, through a determined and vociferous effort, have at least created a precedent where the EFL respond to fans. Blackpool are completely dissatisfied with the response, and have thus been able to secure the interest of the Independent Football Ombudsman (IFO) in their case. We are now following the same path. It’s necessary for us to approach the EFL first and turn to the IFO in the event of an unsatisfactory response. (the IFO operates only as a final point of call when dialogue with clubs and then the EFL has failed to resolve issues).
Since we know the EFL are not inclined to dialogue with fans, especially regarding takeovers and owner behaviour, we have decided to focus for now simply on the sale and the ODTs around them and try to phrase the questions in a way which do not easily allow them simply to cite “breach of confidentiality” as a reason not to answer. We remain pessimistic that we will receive any useful answer, however failure allows us to turn to the IFO. He already has a copy of our letter to the EFL ahead of his meeting on August 9th in respect of the situation at Blackpool, although for the process reasons explained he cannot raise our case at that meeting.
Since the EFL do not undertake to reply to fans within any stated timescale we have decided for ourselves how long we should reasonably give the EFL for a coherent response, before we turn to the IFO. Obviously for us the questions are time-critical, and we believe the IFO will agree that our expectations re speed of response are, in the circumstances, valid.
Our letter to the EFL can be seen here: