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UK Government’s football governance plans include independent regulator

March 02 2023 - News Release News Editorial

The UK Government has set out its plans for the future of English football, including an independent regulator to help prevent repeat financial failings witnessed at clubs such as Derby County, Bury and Macclesfield Town.  

UK Government’s football governance plans include independent regulator

The plans follow the UK Government’s acceptance of recommendations from the Fan-Led Review of Football Governance, led by Tracey Crouch MP, in 2021.

A new independent regulator of the men’s elite game will be established in law to oversee the financial sustainability of the game. The regulator is set to implement a new licensing system from the Premier League through to the National League, which will require clubs to demonstrate a sound financial business model and good corporate governance before being allowed to compete.

This means that fans will have a greater say in the strategic running of the clubs they support, and help to protect the heritage of clubs. There will also be new tests for owners and directors to ensure they will be worthy custodians.

Historic clubs such as Bury and Macclesfield went out of business as a result of mismanagement, while Derby fell into administration before being rescued last year.

The regulator will also have the power to stop English clubs from joining new competitions that do not meet predetermined criteria, in consultation with the FA and fans. Criteria could include measures to stop clubs from participating in breakaway competitions that would harm the domestic game, such as the proposed European Super League.

“These bold new plans will put fans back at the heart of football, protect the rich heritage and traditions of our much-loved clubs and safeguard the beautiful game for future generations.” UK Prime Minster Rishi Sunak

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Since its inception over 165 years ago, English football has been bringing people together, providing a source of pride for communities and inspiration to millions of fans across the country.

“Yet despite the success of the sport both at home and abroad, we know that there are real challenges which threaten the stability of clubs both big and small.

“These bold new plans will put fans back at the heart of football, protect the rich heritage and traditions of our much-loved clubs and safeguard the beautiful game for future generations.”

Chair of the Fan Led Review of Football Governance, Tracey Crouch MP, added: “The introduction of a new independent regulator of football will strengthen our incredible pyramid, giving investors, fans and communities confidence in the governance of our clubs, enabling them to thrive in the best leagues in the world.

“Football is nothing without its fans, and the announcement today will ensure they remain at its heart while it continues to grow at home and abroad.”

Barney Weston, co-director at non-profit Football For Future, lambasted the lack of commitment from the UK Government on tackling sustainability issues in the plans.

He said: “Not a single reference to environmental sustainability or climate change in UK government documents that plan to ensure the long-term sustainability of English football.

“Climate change is the single biggest issue of our generation, and football will not be exempt. A quarter of professional clubs in England could be flooded by 2050, but you don’t have to look that far ahead.

“Carlisle United suffered £3,000,000 in damage from Storm Desmond, and Tadcaster Albion AFC have been flooded over seven times since 2020. The game is under threat.”

Image: James Kirkup on Unsplash

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