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Football needs a regulator

It has certainly been a controversial start to the premiership of Liz Truss and such is the magnitude of the issues she and her Government currently faces that you would think the regulation of football would be somewhat low down on her list of priorities. However, it is widely thought that she is poised to announce the abandonment of the plans for football to be governed by an independent regulator. The recommendation to introduce independent regulation into our national sport was put forward by Tracey Crouch, chair of the Government’s fan-led review into the governance of the sport. Crouch reached her conclusion after taking evidence from football clubs at all levels, governing bodies and fan groups. She identified the imbalance in revenue distribution between clubs in the Premier League and those in the EFL as a major issue which football will not solve left to its own devices. Like me she believes the football pyramid in this country must be protected and she shone a light on the fantastic community work done by all 92 clubs which is so vital to the communities the clubs serve be it through food banks or educational, sporting or health programmes and much more. The fiasco around the European Super League and the greed displayed by the so called big six Premier League clubs sent shock waves through the sport and those clubs underestimated the depth of feeling of ordinary football fans. It may have gone quiet on that front, but I have no doubt that we have not seen the last of the European Super League and it is merely a battle to be fought again in the future. If it ever happens the football pyramid as we know it would be no more. So many clubs already operate on a knife edge and owning a football club with the current revenue distribution formulas requires very deep pockets. People have short memories and we have already lost Bury and Macclesfield and there will be more clubs for sure. This has devastated fans of those clubs and damaged their local communities but there has never been a time when so many clubs are targets for unscrupulous owners who have little interest in football but are there for asset stripping purposes. Governing Bodies have been reluctant to get involved beyond imposing points deductions for clubs falling foul of financial fair play rules. Crouch also proposed giving a golden share to supporters’ groups, but club owners will resist that on the basis it is their money keeping clubs afloat and outside interference is unwelcome. I was used to working with a supporters representative on the board of directors at Charlton and it is a valuable and transparent addition to decision making processes. In my view football will never self-regulate as self-interest rules so the case for independent regulation is overwhelming if we want to save the football pyramid in this country and if Liz Truss and her Government dispatch the Crouch recommendations to the waste bin then they will be causing untold damage to the fabric of the pyramid - and that will be a sad day for English football.

If you care about the football pyramid in this country, please contact your MP and get them to oppose this change of direction.

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The simple truth is that football cannot be trusted to regulate itself and run the game in the interest of its most important stakeholders - the fans. The so called big six clubs would be off to join


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