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Club Statement regarding EFL Instagram post

28 May 2020

Update - Thursday 28th May, 11am

It has been five days since Tranmere lodged a complaint with the EFL media department that a post including pictures of Tranmere’s promotion to League One last year was the only post on the EFL’s Instagram platform which did not enable comments.

The ability to comment was later enabled on the Instagram post, shortly after it began to gather comment on other social media platforms. However, individual comments which were negative to the EFL but which, we understand, did not breach guidelines relating to abusiveness, were deleted. When we complained about this, the deletions stopped.  

It is the EFL’s policy to allow comments and not to censor them, and we agree with that policy. We therefore feel it is very important to understand why this incident occurred, particularly at a time when the Club is trying to encourage debate on alternatives to the EFL’s proposed means of settling the promotion and relegation spots in the event of the early termination of the season.

The EFL deny that anyone at the EFL disabled comments, subsequently re-enabled them, or deleted comments which were negative to the EFL.  This was contradicted by information the EFL gave to the media about the issue. 

It has been, and remains, Tranmere’s view that this can only have happened by one or more manual interventions by an EFL employee.  

The EFL maintain that it may have happened because of a “technical upgrade” by Instagram but have declined to provide us with any information regarding what this technical upgrade was, or when it occurred, despite our repeated requests.  We feel it defies all logic for a technical update to impact only one post on one account, and that even if this was so in relation to the initial inability to leave comments, it does not explain how comments were reenabled or individual comments subsequently deleted.

Furthermore, even if we accept that the problems were caused by a technical glitch that fixed itself without any intervention from the EFL, it would be a staggering coincidence that the timing of the two different aspects of the glitches fixed themselves straight after our complaints.  It is our view that the only logical explanation is someone must have manually intervened to permit comments, and to delete individual ones. 

The EFL have declined to give any substantive response until they have investigated further with Instagram. It is disappointing that in the meantime they have declined to answer other questions on which Instagram can clearly shed no light, or indeed to share with us exactly what questions they are asking Instagram.  

We recognise that at a time when the country is still in the grip of Covid, these issues may seem trivial, but in our opinion the fact that there is a pandemic should not enable bodies to ignore the proper standards of transparency and honesty of debate.  That is why we are not prepared to let the issue remain unresolved. 

Update - Monday 25th May, 5.45pm

We have still not had a substantive explanation from the EFL. We will continue to press for a response and we will keep you informed.

Original statement - Sunday 24th May

Tranmere Rovers Football Club were made aware by supporters on Saturday 23rd May at 11am about the inability to leave comments on a Tranmere-related post published on the EFL's official Instagram channel which included images of our 2019 League Two Play-Off win against Newport County.

We understand that the EFL's policy is that comments should be available on all EFL posts and should not be deleted unless in breach of rules.  As far as we are aware, the Tranmere-related post was the only post affected by any issue with commenting.

Within an hour of the EFL being informed by Tranmere, comments were enabled.  Subsequently, however, some of the comments made, permanently disappeared.

The Club received numerous enquiries from both supporters and external media channels asking for an explanation, particularly given the exceptionally sensitive timing for the Club following the EFL’s proposals for the 2019/20 season and the need for robust debate regarding the proposals, which are to be put to a vote.

We therefore asked for clarification from the EFL, outlining our strong concerns and requesting a full explanation to why this has happened.

The EFL advised us, and have since confirmed their understanding, that no EFL employee disabled or re-enabled comments, or deleted comments. Given that this begs the question of how it did in fact happen, we are now awaiting a further response from the EFL upon completion of their own internal investigation.

We will inform supporters as soon as the response has been received and a successful conclusion to the matter has been reached.

The Club will be making no further comment at this time.


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