Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Jamie Carragher and Gary Lineker follow in the footsteps of Blackpool fans in calling for independent regulation

Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Gary Lineker and other prominent names in the world of football have today launched a campaign calling for independent regulation in the English game.

Monday, 17th May 2021, 11:47 am
Updated Monday, 17th May 2021, 11:48 am

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Neville, Caragher, Lineker, Micah Richards and Rio Ferdinand are among a group who say it is "time to act" to change football for the better.

The call for action came in an open letter signed by a number of former players and journalists, urging supporters to sign a parliamentary petition - which reached 10,000 signatures in the first 30 minutes - calling for an independent regulator in the English game by the end of the year.

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At the time of writing at 11.30am, the petition had already gained 42,000 signatures, but it's rising rapidly.

"As football fans, we were appalled by the attempt to set up a European Super League," the letter read.

"It was a direct threat to the integrity of the game; destroying the concept of sporting merit and open competition.

"Supporters came together with one voice to oppose the cynical power-grab by a group of wealthy owners. The furious protests were heard and the breakaway fell apart.

Gary Neville is fronting a campaign calling for the introduction of an independent regulator for English football

"Now we must make sure this never happens again. Without swift and direct intervention, the return of a European Super League will be a constant threat.

"We welcome the fan-led Government review of the game and hope it leads to lasting change on an array of important concerns; including co-ordinated strategies to deal with racism, supporters' representation within clubs, LGBTQ issues, ticket costs and the distribution of income. All of those aims can be realised if we take decisive action now."

The group highlighted last month's European Super League breakaway attempt as evidence of the need for reform of the game's governance.

The foundation of the Super League prompted the UK Government to bring forward a fan-led review, which will be led by former sports minister Tracey Crouch and will assess the need for an independent regulator.

The open letter - also signed by Laura Woods, Jamie Redknapp and Henry Winter - also calls for government legislation to block any club attempting to leave the football pyramid.

In a video on Twitter, Neville said: "There is one big opportunity now in this next few months to influence the outcome of English football and create a fairer game for all.

"A fan-led review has been announced by the government. I urge you, if you hated me as a player, if you dislike me as a pundit, just to listen to me this one time and sign this petition which will bring independent regulation and transparency at the top of the game we all love."

The concept of an independent regulator isn't a new one, in fact Blackpool's supporters were calling for one to be introduced as far back as 2018.

The club's leading fans' group, Blackpool Supporters' Trust (BST), launched a campaign three years ago. But their petition was largely ignored outside the Fylde coast and only garnered 14,500 signatures.

But since the outrage over the failed European Super League plans, the issue is now high on the agenda and is beginning to gain more traction across the country.

To sign the petition, click here.

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