Football at a ‘crossroads’ as Govt review calls for regulator and financial controls


nglish football faces a “stark choice” between modernisation and “the inevitable consequences of inaction”, according to Tracey Crouch MP, whose review into the game has called for strict financial controls and the introduction of an independent regulator.

The former sports minister, who chaired the Fan Led Review of Football Governance, described the game as “at a crossroads” as she recommended a series of reforms in the 162-page report, published Wednesday.

A new independent regulator (IREF) would be established by Parliament and run a licensing system for all professional men’s clubs. The new organisation would be able to demand clubs show proof of financial sustainability and have sweeping powers to intervene at poorly run outfits.

The IREF would additionally oversee new tests for both owners and directors, which would require anyone wanting to own a club to prove their ‘good character’.

Crouch also called for more financial support from the Premier League for the pyramid, including a levy on top-flight transfers from overseas, and the IREF could have the power to intervene if authorities fail to agree a package.

“The Review has formed the firm belief that our national game is at a crossroads with the proposed ESL just one of many, albeit the most recent and clearest, illustrations of deep seated problems in the game,” Crouch said.

“I believe there is a stark choice facing football in this country. Build on its strengths, modernise its governance, make it fairer and stronger still at every level or do nothing and suffer the inevitable consequences of inaction in towns and cities across the country: more owners gambling the future of football clubs unchecked; more fan groups forced to mobilise and fight to preserve the very existence of the club they love and inevitably more clubs failing with all the pain on communities that brings.”

As part of 10 key recommendations, Crouch called for a new mandatory code of corporate governance for all professional clubs, as well as mandatory “equality, diversity and inclusion plans” – with potential penalties for those who fail to comply.

She continued: “As was remarked to the Review, for all the good owners in the game clubs are only one bad owner away from disaster.

Tracey Crouch MP

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