Date: 22nd October 2016 at 12:01am
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The Football League, or EFL for those with a rebrand nature, have called on fans across the country to say no to ‘starry’ language or no more ******* bad language if you prefer that phrase.

As we go into another weekend full of matchdays, the Football League have been talking up the increased good behaviour at grounds thesedays, based on both fans behaving themselves but also the initiatives and programmes introduced by the authorities and clubs themselves when it comes to behaviour no longer acceptable inside or outside of football stadiums around the country.

Part of the success of that they believe is in the growing number of families, women and importantly children – the next generation of fans – who now attend in sun, rain or snow across a season.

Of course bad language in and of itself is part of life, we all like a good ******* every now and then, sometimes it’s because your side has scored, other times because your side has conceded and just as applicable is when you’re dumb and hit your thumb with a hammer or kick the coffee table (because clearly somebody had moved it!) with your big toe.

The ‘Enjoy the Match’ campaign that will continue this weekend sort of acknowledges that as the thrust is again continuing improvement in saying no to bad language and aggressive behaviour within designated Family Areas inside of grounds.

And fair’s fair – if you don’t want your little bundle of joy to get a more worldly vocabulary education that early in life, you head for the Family Areas and that should be respected.

If your little trooper would raise Brian Blessed’s eyebrows with an unexpected choice of words at that age, there are plenty of other areas they can watch from and not overly be out of place!

The EFL points to supporter surveys as showing fans welcoming the zero tolerance aspect in Family Areas, saying it is a key part in their matchday experience and with plenty of clubs also building on the ‘family’ aspect with activities and entertainment for kiddies ahead of games, that also featured highly for over half of those who took part.

Rightly, as many fans would point out, fans are fans, football (at least used to be a working class game and a blowout and release after a tough week of work) so it shouldn’t be all on the fans when you see the behaviour and attitude of the players on the pitch, and the EFL remind us of their Code of Conduct where fans effectively can be role models to the players by showing their support and respecting the match officials.

But I’m sure they’ve got that a bit backwards as I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player abuse a referee based on a fan calling him a hobgoblin first – I’m sure that’s the other way round but hey ho.

Chief Executive of the Football League, Shaun Harvey explained.

‘So many of our clubs are now displaying innovative and engaging ways in which they are interacting with families and junior fans. There has never been a better time to visit your local EFL club on a matchday, and enjoy the sorts of entertainment clubs are now providing to ensure the experience stretches well beyond the 90 minutes on the pitch. We want our supporters to have the best possible experience on a matchday and leave smiling. It is important that our supporters feel able to report any instances of anti-social behaviour that they witness on matchdays. The new club-branded Enjoy the Match campaign materials are another vital cog in the wheel to ensure that the hard work being undertaken by clubs in providing such experiences, are not undermined by unwanted anti-social behaviour in family areas. Clubs are vigilant in this area and need fans` support to ensure everyone attending can ‘Enjoy the Match’.’

With football in the top flight more moving to the armchair fan and being arranged to suit the television companies, it remains vital for all clubs to ensure that the next generation continue coming through the turnstiles, get hooked and want to return, so for those where a slightly more sedate Family Area is the introduction they need before they find colourful language of their own as a means of expressing themselves, I’m not sure there’s actually anybody who would argue with fans using their heads when in and around those areas.

What’s important is they get hooked, feel comfortable and enjoy and come back, and I doubt I’m the only parent that started with the littlens in the Family Areas to begin with before moving around.

It serves a purpose and should be respected.