23rd July 2021

Independent Regulator recommended for English football

An Independent Regulator for English Football (IREF) is needed, outlines Tracy Crouch MP in a letter (PDF below) to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden. The letter details the interim recommendations from the Fan Led Review of Football Governance, which was commissioned in April as a response to concerns that followed attempts to launch a European Super League (ESL). 

It outlines that the IREF is needed to ensure better regulation of football club finances; corporate governance; and club ownership. Specifically, it recommends that real time financial monitoring of football clubs should be considered in order to prevent club bankruptcies; that minimum good governance requirements – including independent club Directors – are also considered as well tests on potential club owners; and a formal club licensing system be considered to protect against any future ESL-type proposal.

Crouch also outlines that ‘heritage assets’ such as club names, badges, and stadiums require better protection. She suggests a ‘golden share’ option be offered to fans in order to protect such assets. She is also considering how supporters can be offered greater opportunities to purchase a stake in their club, especially during insolvency cases.

Crouch also suggests that the ‘parachute payment’ system – whereby a relegated club receives more money in following seasons – needs reform. ‘I am in no doubt they distort competition and drive unsustainable financial activity but recognise that they do also assist the ambition of promoted clubs and stability of relegated clubs’, she writes. ‘Accordingly, I will undertake further work over the summer on revenue flows within the football pyramid with a view to a conclusive recommendation in the final report’.

Crouch also recommends that 50% of the Football Association (FA) Board should be independent, and that barriers to revenue generation should be removed. This could include abolishing rules requiring the FA to spend an equal amount on the amateur and professional game; and allowing all-weather pitches in League Two (fourth tier). 

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