In a survey conducted by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), players across the English Football League (EFL) voiced growing concerns about workload and on-pitch safety.
The survey was distributed among Championship, League One and League Two players.
It aimed to provide the PFA with insights into various concerns, including the recent changes in additional time rules, player safety during pitch invasions, potential expansion of VAR and player workload issues.
The Key Findings
The survey’s findings paint a concerning picture:
- New additional time rules: 60% of EFL players are unhappy with the new rules regarding additional time at the end of each half. An almost identical percentage feel the increased added time contributes to a higher rate of player injuries.
- Player workload: Approximately three-quarters of surveyed EFL players noted that they were not given a proper break between seasons. Over 60% believe that insufficient rest and recovery time are directly linked to an increase in player injuries.
- Pitch invasions: Over half of the surveyed players had been part of a game where a pitch invasion resulted in player harassment or attacks. Less than 20% felt that sufficient action was being taken to identify and penalise those responsible for pitch invasions and discriminatory chanting.
- VAR expansion: Opinions regarding the expansion of VAR use beyond the Premier League were divided. Almost 50% of EFL players supported the idea, while nearly 60% felt that the current usage of VAR needed significant improvements. Around a third expressed outright opposition to VAR in the game.
PFA’s Response and Actions
The PFA’s survey results are not just statistics. They represent the players’ collective voice, and the union is committed to ensuring these concerns are addressed.
PFA Chief Executive Officer Maheta Molango emphasised the importance of collaborative efforts with football governing bodies, adding that issues related to player workload remain a top priority.
The PFA intends to work alongside high-profile players like Virgil van Dijk and Raphael Varane to address the overcrowded fixture calendar.
The survey highlighted existing rights that players might not be fully aware of. The men’s standard contract, negotiated by the PFA, entitles players to five weeks of paid holiday per year.
Clubs are also expected not to ‘unreasonably refuse’ a player’s request for three weeks of consecutive holiday, particularly between seasons.
Leyton Orient defender and PFA Chair Omar Beckles stressed the importance of the union’s role in understanding players’ concerns and representing them during discussions with football’s governing bodies.
The survey has become an invaluable tool for gathering player feedback, helping the union protect the rights and wellbeing of its members.
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