EFL CHIEF executive Trevor Birch has warned that tougher sanctions for pitch invasions are on the way following a series of incidents.

Earlier this month, a Nottingham Forest fan was jailed for 24 weeks after he attacked Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp during the play-off semi-finals.

Police investigations are also ongoing in relation to incidents at Northampton’s clash with Mansfield and Port Vale’s fixture against Swindon.

“There can be no blurring of the lines or ambiguity with this matter. Simply put, the pitch is for participants and the stands for spectators,” Birch said in an open letter to fans.

“The EFL will be working with the various authorities on a series of measures during the close season to help reinforce that message and address the challenge that is being presented to the game.

“As part of this work the introduction of tougher but proportionate sanctions will now also have to be considered with your respective club in the early part of next month.

“For our part, we will need to discuss what further measures could be introduced for the new season, including the potential use of capacity reductions, financial penalties, or other similar mitigations.

“The quickest and most straightforward solution to the problem is for all fans to think before they act and leave the pitch for the teams to play the game. That way there will be no requirement for authorities to get involved and everything can be settled on the field as it should be.”

The EFL board is due to meet on June 8, with their annual general meeting taking place two days later.

Birch added: “In the opening months of the season, you dealt with the uncertainty of Covid protocols, Covid passes and Covid postponements through the winter, yet despite those challenges, you have returned to show up for your clubs in huge numbers once again,” he said.

“Together you have been through the turnstiles almost 20 million times across our competitions and your support has been crucial to clubs as they continue to rebuild their finances following a difficult couple of years.”

Keep up to date with our Burnley coverage on social media by joining us on Facebook and Twitter