EFL clubs and their respective community organisations (CCOs) have always been, and remain, at the heart of their communities, and their importance to the daily lives of so many people cannot be underestimated. That has been reflected in the outstanding collective efforts that have been made in supporting the response to coronavirus so far. In the midst of the unprecedented and, quite clearly, challenging set of circumstances brought about by the outbreak of Covid-19, clubs came together to collectively show that even when there are no fixtures, Football remains at the heart of the community and never went away.
With 36.6million people in England and Wales living within a ten-mile radius of an EFL club – a radius that encompasses four in ten residents who fall into the most-deprived population groups – never has this work been more important. CCOs, like Brentford FC Community Sports Trust, were quick to co-ordinate activities with their local authorities, with vulnerable community members and safety at the forefront of their thinking and response. More than 215,000 food parcels have been delivered across the network, including an extra 26,000 Easter eggs and treats to NHS staff and vulnerable adults and children. As one-to-one contact moved online or via telephone, more than 120,000 calls were made with fans, the elderly or vulnerable by EFL Clubs.
And as the Government called on the public to ease the burden on the National Health Service, at least 30 clubs opened their doors to key workers, offering space and facilities in stadia for testing and accommodation. In addition, clubs have delivered over 13,000 items of PPE equipment and 3,500 prescriptions.
In the absence of fixtures and training sessions, players put their role-model status to good use, and made an incredible impact in their respective local communities. Instead of delivering goals, some delivered food parcels, while others made vital phone calls instead of tackles, all for the benefit of those most vulnerable members of society. And, as the nationwide lockdown was extended, the CCO network adapted to ensure people could remain healthy, active and connected.
EFL clubs and CCOs are delivering outstanding work across the country every hour of every day and will continue to do so. They are also providing a significant service to their local authorities, many of whom turned to their clubs in the early weeks of the pandemic. Alongside this, the clubs and charities are finding innovative new ways to fund raise to support their fans, councils and local charities.
The adaptation of CCOs has been phenomenal and will continue to evolve to meet the needs of our EFL communities. From the outset of our response, the safety of our communities and our clubs has remained paramount and adherence to Government advice has been at the heart of our delivery.