Search

‘Enormous step forward’ as Independent Football Regulator Set to be Established

Government review set to enforce independent regulator for football teams. Manchester city stadium Picture

Concluding the year-long review, the Government has announced that an independent regulator will be established to oversee and improve football’s relationship with fans, businesses and local communities.

The regulator will have power to sanction clubs in English football who break Financial Fair Play and other regulations.

The Premier League has responded stating it “recognises and accepts the case for reform” but that a regulator “is not necessary”.

The review was chaired by former sports minister Tracey Crouch following a number of high-profile crises in the sport, most notably the failed European Super League and the collapse of Bury FC. The review outlined 10 recommendations to the Government on how to improve football governance last year.

The bold white paper set to be published in the summer, will set out plans for “a greater role for fans in the day-to-day running of clubs”, says the Government. It will also aim to improve equality and diversity in club boardrooms.

Ms. Crouch called the Government’s endorsement of the review “an enormous step forward”.

She added: “I am exceptionally pleased [the Government] has accepted or supported all the strategic recommendations of the review, including committing to legislation for a statutory independent regulator which will regulate financial resilience as well as ownership of clubs,” Crouch said in a statement to PA news agency.

What will the regulators do

  • The new regulator will be backed by laws which allow it to hand out punishments and have financial oversight of clubs, meaning it can investigate and gather information.
  • It will also apply the new “enhanced” owners’ and directors’ test before acquisition but also on an ongoing basis.

This follows Roman Abramovich’s ongoing sale of Chelsea FC amid Government sanctions and a Saudi Arabian-backed takeover of Newcastle United in October 2021 among others. Both ownerships were criticised by Amnesty International UK on human rights grounds.

Ms. Crouch said she believed fans would welcome the reforms, but “remain nervous that this commitment will be delayed or watered down by the vested and conflicted interests in the game which have resisted the much-needed reform for so long”.

“Further delays could be catastrophic for clubs, communities and fans seeking a more secure and certain regulatory environment,” she added.

Reaction to the Change

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Nadine Dorries stated: “Football is nothing without its fans and for too long the football authorities have collectively been unable to tackle some of the biggest issues in the game.”

However, Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell said delaying the introduction of any legislation until 2024 was “a real disappointment”.

“Football clubs are at the heart of communities. We need to urgently bring in new laws to stop any more clubs going bust or being used as a plaything for the wealthy,” Ms. Powell added.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Government were acting “as fast as we can”, adding: “You’ll have to hold your breath and contain your impatience. It’s been decades without one but I’m happy we’ll be able to make rapid progress.”

Former Football Association Chairman David Bernstein, who alongside former Manchester United defender Gary Neville lobbied for independent regulation of English football, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I believe that if this is handled properly by the right people, it could make a real difference.

“This proposal is bringing greater independence into the game and ensuring that the very strong vested interests that have controlled the game for so long will be balanced.”

Former Football Association chairman, David Bernstein.

The Football Supporters’ Association has urged the Government “to move fast and legislate now”.

“Each day drafting white papers is another day when a club might cease to exist,” it added in a statement.

Changing Sports History

Last month the Premier League told MPs that it was steadfastly opposed to a statutory independent football regulator, so this will be seen as a major defeat for the country’s top clubs, and a significant moment in the Football’s history in this country.

But the chaos at Chelsea after the sanctioning of Russian owner Roman Abramovich was perhaps seen as one footballing crisis too many, and the Government may have had no choice but to back the key recommendation of Crouch in her ‘fan-led review’.

Share

Related Topics

Latest

Video Features

Deputy Speaker Election: In Conversation with Caroline Nokes MP

Deputy Speaker Election: In Conversation with Wendy Morton MP

On the Campaign Trail with Conservative Parliamentary Candidate for Bromsgrove, Bradley Thomas

On the Campaign Trail with Labour PPC for Swansea East, Carolyn Harris

Subscribe to our newsletter for your free digital copy of the journal!

Receive our latest insights, future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Never miss an issue by subcribing to our newsletter!

Receive our latest insights and all future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Never miss an issue by subcribing to our newsletter!

Receive our latest insights and all future journals as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Newsletter Signup

Receive our latest insights as soon as they are published and get invited to our exclusive events and webinars.

Newsletter Signups
?
?

We respect your privacy and will not share your email address with any third party. Your personal data will be collected and handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy.