As a conservative, I am naturally loathe to see additional ‘red tape’ introduced, but if there’s any industry that has needed it for some time, football would be it. The game has evolved dramatically over the decades, in many ways for the better but there’s also been angst for some time especially around ownership, accountability, transparency and fairness.
Football is nothing without its fans, and for too long the football authorities have collectively been unable to support them in tackling some of the biggest issues in the game.
A fan-led review, started under Tracey Crouch MP and finished under Nigel Huddleston MP as Sports Ministers, correctly identified a number of key findings spread across 11 chapters. You can read more about the review that precedes the regulator by clicking here. It is worth noting the fan-led review was a 2019 Conservative Party manifesto commitment, which has now been delivered.
The new regulator’s primary strategic purpose will be to ensure that English football is sustainable and resilient. Clubs will need a license to operate professionally, and to obtain it they will have to demonstrate good basic financial practices, have appropriate financial resources to tackle financial shocks, and protect the core assets of the club, such as the stadium, from harm.
The regulator will implement a minimum standard of fan engagement and ensure clubs have a framework in place to regularly meet a representative group of fans to discuss key matters at the club. The regulator will also give fans a veto over changes to the badge and home shirt colours.
A new ‘integrity test’ for owners and executives will be applied before new owners purchase football clubs. Additionally, it will continue to investigate the source of their funds and make sure that clubs are in safe hands with a sustainable future ahead.
Clubs will only be able to compete in competitions that are approved by the regulator, ensuring that competitions remain fair and meritocratic. No more European ‘super league’ without prior regulatory approval.
The new independent regulator will apply an enhanced Owners’ and Directors’ Test, both ahead of an acquisition of a club and on an ongoing basis. This will include a new ‘integrity test’ for all owners and executives, and enhanced due diligence–including sources of funding. This will ensure that skilled, experienced owners and executives are running these vital community assets.