With the opening fixtures of 2021/22 English Football League (EFL) season kicking off around the country this weekend, Derby County and the EFL are thrilled to be welcoming fans back into stadiums for the start of what is shaping up to be another exciting campaign.
Stadiums have been unable to reach capacity in Sky Bet Championship fixtures since March 2020 and the support of fans has been sorely missed. The first weekend of the new season will hear the roar of crowds return to the terraces, reminding us of football’s power to bring people together by reuniting supporters, communities, friends and families with their clubs.
With promotion and relegation at its heart, the Sky Bet Championship is one of the most exhilarating, unpredictable and compelling divisions in the world and is central to England’s footballing pyramid. The season culminates in the Play-Offs, which offers the most dramatic and tense finale to see which Clubs will gain promotion to the Premier League. As a result, The Championship has an intensely passionate and loyal fanbase and is the fourth most attended league in European Football.
The new season follows a successful UEFA EURO 2020 competition for England, with the EFL playing an important role in the development of some of the nation’s most recognisable players. Of the 15 England players who featured in the semi-final win over Denmark, 10 have played in the EFL at some point in their career including club captain Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Harry Maguire and Jack Grealish. The impact of the EFL on the international game could also be seen across the tournament. A total of 33 players, who played for 15 different Sky Bet EFL clubs during the 2020/21 season, represented their countries during the EUROs.
This season will also see the return of the Carabao Cup. Providing some of the best memories for supporters and Clubs since its inception in 1960, the Carabao Cup plays an important role in the footballing pyramid and offers Clubs significant income from sponsorship and broadcast deals. The competition is also traditionally a place for young players to break through into the first team and gain valuable experience. Phil Foden scored his first professional goal in the League Cup, whilst Jude Bellingham and Dominic Calvert-Lewis both made their debuts in the competition.
Both competitions are also traditionally a place for young players to break through into the first team and gain valuable experience. Phil Foden scored his first professional goal in the League Cup, whilst Jude Bellingham and Dominic Calvert-Lewis both made their debuts in the competition.
Tuesday saw the EFL stage their annual ‘Launch Day’ across all 72 of their clubs. Derby County’s event took place at Pride Park Stadium with new captain Tom Lawrence meeting a small number of supporters for a question and answer session to celebrate the return of fans at Saturday's opening day encounter against Huddersfield Town.
Trevor Birch, CEO of the EFL commented: “It is fantastic to see our clubs welcoming a number of their fans back to their stadiums and training grounds today as part of the EFL’s Season Launch. In only a few days’ time thousands of supporters will be going through the turnstiles at EFL grounds across the country as we embark on what’s set to be another exhilarating, unpredictable and compelling EFL campaign.
“Supporters are what make our game special and nothing can replace that matchday experience that will be back in all its glory this weekend. Football has unique ability to connect communities, bring people together and it will be a memorable day as we welcome fans back safely nationwide.”