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EFL Player Insights: Additional Time, VAR and Scheduling

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PFA survey reveals widespread player workload and on-pitch safety concerns

A survey of players conducted by the players’ union, the PFA, has revealed increasing concerns over player workload and on-pitch safety.  

The survey, which was distributed to players in the Championship, League One and League Two, was designed to provide the players’ union with a snapshot of member sentiment on a range of current issues, including the new additional times rules introduced in the English game this season, player safety during pitch invasions, the potential expansion of VAR beyond the Premier League, and a range of player workload concerns.  

The survey revealed a number of findings that the PFA will share with the game’s governing bodies to help support efforts to make sure players’ voices are heard.  

Top-line findings from the survey include the following:  

  • Almost 60% of EFL players surveyed by the PFA do not support the new rules relating to additional time at the end of each half.
    Nearly 60% also said that they believed longer games, resulting from new additional time rules, were causing more players to get injured.

  • Three-quarters of EFL players surveyed by the PFA survey said that they felt players were not given a proper break between seasons.
    Over 60% felt that a lack of rest and recovery time was resulting in players getting injured more often.
  • Over half of EFL players surveyed by the PFA said they had been part of a game where a pitch invasion had resulted in a player being attacked or harassed.
    Less than 20% felt enough was being done to identify those responsible for pitch invasions, harassment of players and discriminatory chanting.
  • EFL players surveyed by the PFA are split almost 50/50 on whether they would support the expansion of VAR use beyond the Premier League. 
    Almost a third of EFL players surveyed said they did not support the use of VAR in the game. Nearly 60% said that, although they broadly supported the use of VAR, the way it is currently used needed to be “significantly improved”.  

The PFA’s findings – which are also being shared directly with members – will be used to raise awareness of existing protections and rights which players may not be aware of.  

Pointing to widespread player concerns about a lack of rest and recovery time, especially between seasons, the PFA have highlighted an existing measure in the current men’s standard contract, negotiated by the union, which means players are entitled to five weeks of paid holiday per year. It also means that clubs should not “unreasonably refuse” a request from a player to take three weeks of holiday consecutively, for example between seasons.  

PFA CEO Maheta Molango said:  

“The intention of a project like this is to identify areas where we need to work collaboratively with those who run the game, and to ensure that the views of players are heard and acted on.  

“Issues around player workload continue to be raised by players at all levels, whether that’s Virgil van Dijk and Raphael Varane speaking about the work we are doing with them to address the uncontrolled growth of the fixture calendar, or EFL members telling us that, overwhelmingly, they are not getting suitable rest and recovery between seasons.  

“This will continue to be a priority for us, but where there are already rights in place to protect players, it’s important that they are aware of them. It’s equally important for us as a union to know when players may feel they need support enforcing such rights.”  

PFA Chair Omar Beckles, who currently plays in EFL League One for Leyton Orient, said: 

“As their union, it’s really important that we know what issues matter to players. 

“We’re constantly talking to members, but these surveys are another way of letting them share their views. 

“That insight is really valuable for us when we’re in the room, on their behalf, with the bodies who run the game.” 

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