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‘Momentous day’ as fan-led review into football calls for regulator

‘Momentous day’ as fan-led review into football calls for regulator

The eagerly-awaited Government fan-led review into football has called for the introduction of an independent regulator into the running of clubs, as well as giving fans more control over their clubs.

Fair Game, a group of football clubs, including Grimsby Town, who are pushing for sustainability in football through reform, have praised the report labelling it as a “momentous day for football.”

Niall Couper, CEO of Fair Game, said: “The review honours the pyramid, respects the supporters and puts in place the steps needed to deliver proper governance.”

Led by Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, the report was commissioned in response to the collapse of Bury FC and Macclesfield Town FC, as well as the failed Super League proposals.

Among the key proposals, the report calls for an independent regulator which will oversee club’s finances and can grant licenses to compete, as well as deciding whether owners or directors are fit to run a club through a new integrity test.

This is a proposal that Grimsby Town chairperson Jason Stockwood has adamantly called for this change, even as recently as last week.

Speaking in his column for The Guardian, he said: “we need a massive upgrade of the evidently weak owners’ and directors’ test.”

He will also welcome a proposal which looks to limit the amount of money an owner can pump into the club, based on their existing finances, which aims to put an end to unsustainable practices of clubs spending more than they can realistically afford.

The report also suggests that fans should have a veto on important club matters, such as changing the club name or selling the stadium.

Other proposals include: a ‘transfer tax’ on Premier League clubs, with the money redistributed amongst other clubs in the pyramid; shadow fan boards who scrutinise the work of the regular club board to ensure the club and community remains in a healthy state.

Jason Stockwood has praised the report for setting a “clear path towards a better governed game of generations to come.”

It is understood that the government will support the proposals written out in the report, particularly the introduction of an independent regulator, as a statement from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and sport said:

“The primary recommendation of the review is clear, and one the government chooses to endorse in principle today: that football requires a strong, independent regulator to secure the future of our national game.

“The government will now work at pace to determine the most effective way to deliver an independent regulator, and any powers that might be needed.

“This is an important Review that we hope will lead to change for good in football.”

However, Tracy Crouch has said that this may not be enough, saying it is a “whole package of reforms.”

“An independent regulator is one thing but if you don’t have proper prudential regulation, good corporate governance, supporter engagement and a golden share it’s basically just a bunch of people issuing a licence,” she added.

Mr Couper of Fair Game agreed, adding: “It is now time for the government to take rapid action to ensure all the recommendations are implemented, and allow the review to complete its journey and deliver a fairer future for football.

“We cannot allow this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fail.”

The report is currently under review by the government and a full response will be published in June 2022.

The Football Association have stated that they will work with the government over reforms because of the importance the review holds to the wider game.

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