Fan-led review recommends independent regulator for English football - something Blackpool fans have long campaigned for

A fan-led review has found English football needs an independent regulator to stop it from “lurching from crisis to crisis”.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 10:12 am
Updated Thursday, 25th November 2021, 10:27 am

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The highly anticipated report, led by the Conservative MP and former sports minister Tracey Crouch, was commissioned this year in response to ongoing crises of governance.

The government will make a statement on the report in parliament today, with the possibility of legislation being announced next spring in the Queen’s speech.

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According to the BBC, the government supports the plans for independent regulation.

According to the review, a regulator would have the power to oversee clubs’ finances and decide whether or not prospective owners were fit to hold their role.

An independent regulator was something Blackpool fans first proposed during the height of their fight against the Oystons.

A petition was launched back in 2018 but gained little traction among supporters of other clubs.

The review was led by former sports minister Tracey Crouch

The issue remained high on the agenda though following a number of high-profile cases elsewhere, including the tragic expulsion of Bury FC after the Shakers went bust in 2019.

The subject of improved regulation was put to former EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey during a meeting with Blackpool fans in 2018.

Harvey, who left the EFL the following year, gave short shrift to the idea though.

“No doubt the circumstances at Blackpool Football Club are on the extreme end of the scale,” Harvey said during that meeting, which was attended by The Gazette.

“But generally most of our clubs are fine.”

That came in response to an impassioned plea from Christine Seddon, the former chair of Blackpool Supporters’ Trust.

She said: “As fans, when we have complaints, who do we go to? We need an authority.

“The current system should simply not be allowed to continue.

“This has been going on for too long. Other clubs are suffering, it’s not just us.

“We need somebody who is going to stand up for the fans. We recognise you are not the people to do that.”

Other proposals in the fan-led review include:

- A golden share, held by supporters, that could veto certain key changes in a football club – from changing the name to selling the ground.

- A transfer levy that could see a tax of as much as 10 per cent put on Premier League deals, with the money redistributed. The review calculated that in the past five years a 10 per cent levy would have raised about £160m a year

- Shadow boards made up of fans who must be consulted by clubs on key decisions

- A reappraisal of parachute payments to be determined between the Premier League and Football League – and, if there is no solution, by the regulator

- Compulsory relegation and promotion clauses in players’ contracts

- A review into the future of the women’s game

“I genuinely think that what we’ve set out in the report is good for the game,” Crouch said.

“It will set out a long-term sustainable position for English football.

“I think it will encourage growth and investment and I think it will drive improvements across the game that have been required for many years, decades in fact.”

Crouch added: “I think it’s really important to say that this 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.”

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