Fans protest across the Premier League against the European Super League

The government said it would set up an independent governing body in football after confirmation Recommendations are made in the fan-guided review into the men’s game.

The regulator will have the power to sanction English football clubs that breach financial and other rules.

The Premier League said it “recognized and accepted this case for reform” but a governing body was “not necessary”.

A new owner check will be introduced and the legislation will give fans more say in the running of the game.

It comes after a review made 10 recommendations to the government on how to improve football governance last year.

The review was chaired by former sports minister Tracey Crouch after a number of famous crises in sport, such as failed in the European Super League and the fall of Bury FC.

Crouch called the government’s confirmation of the review “a huge step forward” but also said the unclear timeframe for implementing the changes was “disturbing”.

No direct schedule for implementing the changes has been announced but the government says a white paper – a policy document that sets out detailed proposals for future laws – will be published in the summer .

The new regulator will be backed by laws that will allow them to introduce penalties and monitor clubs’ finances, meaning they can investigate and gather information.

It will also adopt a new “enhanced” owner and director test, which will replace the current tests carried out by the Premier League, Football Association and Football Association.

This comes after Roman Abramovich repeatedly sold Chelsea amid government sanctions and Takeover of Newcastle United backed by Saudi Arabia in October 2021 among others. Both ownerships have been criticized by Amnesty International UK.

New testing will be performed prior to acquisition but also on an ongoing basis.

It will include a new ‘integrity test’ for owners and executives and stronger pre-purchase investigations, including funding sources.

“I am particularly pleased [the government] has accepted or supported all strategic recommendations of the review, including the statutory commitment to an independent statutory regulator that will govern financial resilience as well as ownership of the clubs,” Crouch said in a statement to the PA news agency.

“This is a huge step forward in delivering much-needed reforms to football.”

Crouch said she believes fans will welcome the reforms, but “remains worried that this commitment will be delayed or diminished by the conflicting and conflicting interests in the game that are inherently resistant to the reform.” the way it has been necessary.”

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

Last month, Helen MacNamara, director of policy and corporate affairs at the Premier League, told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee that the league “definitely” doesn’t want a chance. legally independent regulatory authority.

The government said its white paper would lay out plans for a “greater role for fans in the day-to-day operations of the club” and ensure fans have a “greater voice over changes”. exchange for their club’s city, logo, name and jersey through a “gold stake”, to protect the clubs and their central role as important community assets. important”.

The white paper will also aim to improve equality and diversity in club meeting rooms.

BBC Sport understands that football’s major bodies will seek more detail on the proposals.

The Premier League is understood to be wary of anyone with a desire to reform football but have no knowledge of the sport.

Its stance remains to employ two excellent football lawyers along with a ‘football expert’ who has experience in running the game, offering the best way to resolve controversial cases.

A statement from the federation read: “The Premier League recognizes and accepts this case for reform and strengthening of the governing system in football. We welcome the clarity from the Government regarding their position. and commit to working with them during this next phase of consultation, although we will continue to maintain that there is no need for a regulatory body backed by law.”

The UK’s flagship airline said it would introduce its own plans for the start of next season to ensure fans are heard, and it is also working to “design and implement policies”. book” to meet the audit’s objectives, including reviewing its owner. and the director’s test.

The EFL welcomed the government’s announcement and said it was working with ministers and officials following the release of the fan-led review in November.

EFL President Rick Parry said: “Our focus throughout is how we can make clubs financially sustainable at all levels of the football pyramid for generations. future generations of football fans,” said Rick Parry, president of the EFL.

The Crouch review recommends looking at financial allocations, including “more support from the Premier League for the pyramid through a solidarity transfer tax, paid by Premier League clubs when buying players from abroad.” or other top clubs”.

But the government said it believed “this should be dealt with by football’s governing bodies in the preliminary stage”.

“It is remarkable and disappointing that there has been no progress in the discussions among the football authorities regarding financial reallocation and I share the government’s view that this matter should be addressed as an urgent matter,” Crouch added.

What is the response to the move?

Campaign group Fair game backs the government’s announcement but says “what we need now is a solid timetable for change”.

“There can be no more delay or dithering,” Fair Game added, adding that it is “disappointing to see no mention of the new international transfer tax at first glance.”

Cultural Secretary Nadine Dorries “Football is nothing without its fans and for too long the football authorities have been unable to address some of the biggest problems in the game,” said the statement.

“The government has taken decisive action to conduct a fan-led review and today we endorsed every of the 10 strategic government recommendations and approaches set forth by Tracey Crouch. .”

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

“Football clubs are the heart of the community. We urgently need new legislation to prevent any other clubs from going bankrupt or being used as toys for the wealthy,” Powell said. “.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the government was acting “as quickly as possible”, adding: “You will have to hold your breath and control your impatience. It has been decades without one but I am glad we will. can make rapid progress.”

Knight Julian MPwho chaired the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said the government had “parked the bus” by not setting a specific timeframe on creating a regulator.

“Committing to introduce an independent regulator is a welcome step, but the Government must now start setting it up for the sake of our national game,” Knight said.

“Developments such as the absurd proposal to host the European Super League, and the struggles for survival faced by clubs in our community, have made football governance in this country considered a joke.”

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

“This proposal is bringing greater independence to the game and ensuring that the very strongly patronized interests that have long controlled the game are balanced.”

Neville tweeted: “If we take this at face value it’s what the game desperately needs. However, why the delay? It needs it now.”

Professional Players Association said it welcomes recommendations made regarding player welfare, especially for those whose careers are coming to an end.

“Support needs to be consistently and fully funded, and we look forward to playing a key role in establishing a system that achieves this,” a statement read.

“For the PFA, it is important that the people who play the game – at all levels – remain at the center of conversations about its future.”

Football Supporters Association urged the government “to move quickly and legislate now”.

“Every whitepaper drafting day is another day when a club can cease to exist,” it added in a statement.

Analysis – ‘A pivotal moment in sport history’

Dan Roan, BBC sports editor

Last month, the Premier League told MPs it was firmly opposed to a statutory independent football governing body, so it would be seen as a major setback for the country’s top clubs. water, and is a pivotal moment in the sport’s history.

Despite the turmoil caused by the European Super League, the controversy over Saudi Arabia’s takeover of Newcastle United, and the financial crisis at Derby County, the Premier League still hopes to convince ministers to let the FA take over. manage.

But the turmoil at Chelsea following the punishment of Russian owner Roman Abramovich is perhaps seen as too much of a football crisis, and the government may feel it has no choice but to back the recommendation. Crouch’s lead in the ‘fan-led review’. That – coupled with a pledge of greater advocate engagement – ​​will please many who have been calling for radical reform.

What is not clear is whether the increased scrutiny of the governing body’s owners and directors will prevent any club takeovers or financial problems that have affected the game in the future. recent years or not, and when exactly will it be put into law and fully established.

Not everything Crouch calls for is supported. She also recommended that Premier League clubs pay a “solidarity transfer fee” to further support the football pyramid and redistribute wealth. But at least for now, the government has left this to the football governing bodies.

It will certainly be a relief to the Premier League and frustrated clubs in the Football League, who may feel this is a missed opportunity to balance football’s financial landscape. .

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