English football will have an independent regulator, with a reinforced “fitness test” for owners and directors, ahead of the next UK general election, according to plans set out by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries.
The plan, outlined in a letter from Doris to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and seen by the Financial Times, would put the government on a collision course with the country’s governing body of sport and administration, the Football Association (FA). and the Premier League, which organizes the Premier League, on how the popular sport should be regulated.
According to a person close to the governing body, the FA prefers the supervisor to sit within its framework, while the Premier League has argued against full statutory regulation.
However, the English Football League (EFL), which runs the divisions below the first, favors a body outside the FA, according to a person close to them.
According to his advisors, Doris wants the regulator to be completely independent, although this may change in the future if the FA proves that he has made fundamental reforms. But the plan raises the potential for heated debate over the future of the sport.
The Culture Secretary argued that the repealed European Super League – a scheme drawn up last year with the support of the “Big Six” clubs in the English top division – and the recent financial problems in clubs such as Bury and Derby County demonstrates the need for a new structure.
The sanctions imposed on Chelsea boss Roman Abramovich also highlighted the need for a stricter investigation into an individual’s suitability to own a club, although it is unlikely a new regulator has stopped Saudi from buying Newcastle United last year. The union led would have been stopped.
Dorris acknowledged he would be criticized by some for delaying the legislation until after the next parliamentary session, which could give opponents hope of using the delay to undermine plans.
Conservative MP Tracy Crouch, who oversaw a fan-led review of the football administration last year, argued the next parliamentary session is a matter of “immediate” legislation.
But Doris argued that the new plan for the game required more thorough consultation; A study is planned for the summer, with the intention of going ahead with legislation next year in the final session, ahead of the 2024 general election.
“Some will express their concern that this government is sweeping the issue of football regulation into the tall grass,” Doris said in a letter to Johnson. “I believe it is the opposite; this government is committed to unprecedented regulation that protects fans while preserving the economic value of our national sport.”
To prove “opponents” wrong, Doris said, the government is committed to creating a roadmap promising to legislate in time to deploy the regulator in the Queen’s speech next month and deploy the regulator before the 2024 elections. Should be.
The minister’s aides acknowledged that his plans would put the government on a “collision path” with existing English football bodies, but Doris argued that a new regulator would help create a “coherent and sustainable framework” with less risk of financial crisis. will help.
The Premier League, FA and EFL declined to comment, but last month the Premier League’s Director of Policy and Corporate Affairs Helen McNamara told the House of Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that the league was against full statutory regulation. Was.
He defended the FA’s role, acknowledging the need for “more independent oversight”. “We support FA. We think there is a natural reason why FA would be an effective regulator.”
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said at the same meeting that the body was making the regime changes recommended in the Crouch review to allow them to take on additional responsibilities, including the appointment of independent non-executive directors.
“What we did would be a completely new body, which would be placed independently in the FA, and it would demand that independence,” he said.
The Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport said: “Football is nothing without its fans, who are the foundation of clubs across the country, which is why we ensure they play a vital role in reviewing the governance of the game. Let’s play, overseen by Representative Tracy Crouch”.
“We are committed to the proposal to adopt an independent English football regulator and strengthen the testing of existing owners and directors.”
“Protecting club assets, improving corporate governance and greater financial stability in the football pyramid will be at the heart of our response to the fan-led review.”
Translated by Luiz Roberto M. Gonsalves