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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

UK government backs ‘radical reform’ of English football

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The UK government on Thursday backed the “radical reform” of English football under a new independent regulator that would shake up governance and financial oversight of the game.

Following a sport review Posted on Wednesday, Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary, pledged to work “in tune” to introduce a new regulator that would replace the authority of existing bodies such as the Football Association, the national governing body, and the Premier League. , the top tier of English club football.

Powerful figures within the game, including a campaign group led by David Bernstein, former FA president, and Gary Neville, the Manchester United expert and former player, have backed the plans, but a chief executive of a Premier League club scoffed at the recommendation to redistribute additional funds to lower leagues.

The review, chaired by Conservative MP and former sports minister Tracey Crouch, called for the regulator to have powers to block changes in club ownership, grant fans vetoes on key decisions and redistribute Premier League funding to leagues. lower by imposing a player transfer tax on top of the game.

In a ministerial statement written Thursday, Dorries said: “The main recommendation of the review is clear, and the government chooses to endorse in principle today: that soccer requires a strong and independent regulator to secure the future of our national game.”

A Bury fan outside Gigg Lane after the club was expelled from the English Football League in August 2019.
The collapse of Bury FC in 2019 was one of the crises that has hit football in recent years and prompted the review © Peter Byrne / PA Wire

Crouch told the Financial Times late Wednesday that the package of 10 strategic recommendations and 47 detailed recommendations was “holistic” and should be fully implemented to make football financially sustainable. The government will consider the findings and provide a full response in spring 2022.

The “fan-driven” review was fueled by the crises that have rocked the sport: the collapse of the Bury soccer club in 2019; aborted plans by six of the Premier League’s top clubs to join a breakaway European Super League earlier this year; and the impact of the coronavirus, which caused a 2 billion pound revenue shortfall across sport in England.

Noting these difficulties, Dorries said that “the current supervision of the game is not up to the challenge” of solving the financial problems within the game.

The campaign group Our Beautiful Game, led by Bernstein and of which Neville is a member, said “the game deserves nothing less” than independent oversight.

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The group said in a statement Wednesday: “Today is an important moment in the long history of our national sport. The burden of maintaining the momentum for an independent English football regulator now clearly falls on parliament and the government itself. Legislation will be needed to turn the recommendations in today’s report into reality. “

The FA also welcomed the publication and the Premier League recognized “the call for some form of independent regulation,” but both declined to comment on the government’s backing for the review.

However, Christian Purslow, chief executive of the Premier League club Aston Villa, told the BBC Today program that the government risked “killing the goose that lays the golden eggs if we over-regulate a highly successful financial and commercial operation”, saying the league had already committed to redistribute £ 1.6bn over the next three years.

It also rejected claims that an independent regulator would have blocked the controversial Acquisition of £ 305m of Newcastle United by an investment group led by Saudi Arabia, given that “our government’s policy is that Saudi Arabia is an ally with whom we have extensive business relationships.”

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