Bolton News reporter Dan Barnes discusses the EFL’s rule change to benefit colour blind supporters.

Being colour blind has made life as a football reporter rather difficult at times, but it is fantastic to see the EFL taking action.

Next season, clubs will be allowed to wear their away or third kits for home matches where there is a colour clash.

Teams will also be able to ‘mix and match’ elements of their various strips to avoid potential clashes going forward.

While the news will not mean much for most supporters, it could have a big impact for myself and others who have ever found themselves struggling to follow the action.

Colour blindness is surprisingly common in males – one in 12 men are said to have it in some form – but significantly rarer in females.

I was diagnosed with “red-green deficiency” at a young age, which means that I sometimes have trouble distinguishing between a range of colours.

One game last season that proved to be particularly difficult was Bolton Wanderers’ clash with Sheffield Wednesday at the UniBol – the Owls’ pink away kit was far too similar to the Whites’ home strip, at least for me.

But it has been more of an issue on the rare occasions I have covered Blackburn Rovers over the past year.

My optician once told me that the combination of red numbers on a blue and white shirt is known to cause problems for colour blind people.

Usually, I wouldn’t need to rely on the shirt numbers but there are occasions where they come in handy – when trying to make sense of a crowded penalty area, for instance.

This is the last thing you need while scrambling to cobble together a match report up against a tight deadline on a cold Tuesday night.

I also had a similar issue while reporting on Burnley’s clash with Newcastle at Turf Moor on the final day of the Premier League season.

Another reporter who, as far as I am aware, is not colour blind also commented on how challenging it was to read the numbers on the visitors’ shirts.

The EFL’s latest announcement is not the first time that a notable football league has announced a rule change regarding kit colours - last year, green strips were banned in Serie A at the request of television companies.

However, UK non-profit organisation Colour Blind Awareness claimed that the move would not solve any problems for colour blind viewers – a statement that I would echo from my own experiences.

It will also be interesting to see how the new rules affect colour blind players as well as supporters. Given the statistics, there is likely to be a significant portion of EFL stars who will benefit from the change.

I only play football as a hobby but have found myself giving the ball away on many occasions while struggling to distinguish between my team-mates and the opposition (although a lot of the time it is down to my very questionable ability on the pitch, in fairness).

I cannot imagine how difficult it must be in the professional game where players have so little time on the ball to make decisions, yet so much is on the line.

While the EFL’s announcement is not going to completely transform every colour blind supporter’s viewing experience, it is clearly a step in the right direction in terms of making the sport more accessible.

The changes will not have any impact on those who are not colour blind, apart from perhaps the traditionalists who detest the thought of wearing an away strip on home turf.

In future, I would also like to see measures taken to ensure that those affected can easily read kit numbers from the stands, though I appreciate this is not always straightforward due to some clubs’ historic colours.