REVEALED: One in three English Football League clubs are no longer taking the knee as they seek other ways to support the fight against racism
- Nine clubs in the Championship have moved away from the taking the knee
- Three sides in League One have chosen to remain standing prior to games
- Premier League duo Wilfried Zaha and Ivan Toney have chosen not to take a knee
- Championship side Derby have chosen to huddle before matches instead
A third of the clubs in the English Football League are no longer taking the knee as they seek alternative methods to support the fight against racism.
The Mail on Sunday established that nine of Championship’s 24 clubs have moved away from the gesture that clubs have performed before kick-off since the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Three sides in League One have chosen to remain standing this season as have 13 in League Two, including Exeter City and Forest Green, whose players formed a line before kick-off on Saturday and then applauded in unison. The crowd followed suit.
A third of clubs in the Football League have decided against continuing to take the knee
Individual players not to follow team-mates in taking the knee include Premier League pair Wilfried Zaha and Ivan Toney.
Championship sides who remain standing include Bournemouth, Huddersfield Town and Millwall.
A Bournemouth spokesperson said: ‘We are encouraging personal choice, if individuals want to take the knee then they can, but the squad felt that actions in the community would be more effective than taking the knee.’
Huddersfield explained that their squad have stopped taking the knee because the players felt it was no longer ‘having the desired impact’.
Wilfried Zaha and Brentford striker Ivan Toney (pictured) also do not take a knee prior to games
‘We are fully supportive of every campaign and initiative that aims to tackle discrimination, such as Kick It Out and Football v Homophobia,’ a statement read.
‘However, it’s clear to us that discrimination is still a real problem in football and society. That’s why we felt we had to highlight that more should be done.’
Small groups of fans at clubs in each division have booed players taking the knee this season.
They have included supporters at Premier League sides West Ham, Norwich City, Aston Villa and Burnley, as well as sections of the home crowd at Millwall, Sunderland, Hartlepool, Swindon Town and Rotherham.
Small sections of the crowd at Carrow Road have been heard booing players taking the knee
Kick It Out, the anti-racism campaign group, said it supported players regardless of how they chose to show their opposition to discrimination in society.
‘It’s up to them what form their demonstration against racism and discrimination takes,’ Tony Burnett, the Kick It Out chief executive, said. ‘But whatever the players decide, Kick It Out supports them and would urge fans to get behind them too.’
Burnett added, however, that clubs could be working harder to educate fans around anti-racism issues and building support for players who choose to demonstrate on behalf of them.
In the Championship, Peterborough players now form a huddle rather than take the knee while Derby County’s side stand on the centre circle before kick-off.
Derby County players have chosen to huddle before games as opposed to taking the knee
Sutton United’s squad stand arm in arm to express their solidarity with the anti-racism movement.
The EFL, which commissioned independent research to provide guidance on the issue for the new season, said it would continue to support those players who took the knee and those who did not.
‘We have heard the message from players who wish to take the knee loud and clear and they continue to have the EFL’s support,’ they said in a statement.
‘Likewise, we back those who have chosen not to take the knee and who fight prejudice in other ways.
‘We must all show respect towards one another as collectively as we are stronger when we all work together against discrimination.’