MPs recommend regulatory reform to English football after findings show 'failings at every level'

MPs sitting on the parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee have recommended drastic change to the way English football is governed.

Tuesday, 5th November 2019, 10:58 am
Blackpool supporters protested outside the EFL's headquarters last year
Blackpool supporters protested outside the EFL's headquarters last year

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An inquiry set up following the recent scandal at Bury FC has led to calls for "urgent action" to prevent other clubs experiencing the same fate as the Shakers, who were removed from the EFL earlier this year.

Today the DCMS committee has written to Sports Minister Nigel Adams, EFL executives and the FA laying out their recommendations.

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These include the FA, EFL and Premier League introducing a supporters' ombudsman to hear concerns about how clubs are being run.

An independent ombudsman already exists to investigate complaints that are not resolved by the aforementioned bodies, yet it has little power.

MPs have also called for a reformed Owners' and Directors' Test - a bone of contention for Blackpool fans in recent years - that would disqualify a prospective buyer of a club with a record of corporate insolvency.

The DCMS committee has also wrote to the EFL demanding a formal apology to staff and supporters at Bury, with reparations made for associated loss of earnings.

If these recommendations were enforced, clubs would also be banned from borrowing against fixed assets such as stadiums.

DCMS chair Damian Collins MP said: “Systematic and structural problems are responsible for the tragic expulsion of Bury FC from the League this year.

"These failures were avoidable and it is essential that the authorities urgently overhaul their framework if they wish to avoid the same fate befalling other clubs.

“We heard time and again that supporters felt powerless as they watched their beloved club suffer shocking mismanagement and financial misconduct.

"The authorities must learn to respect, and act upon, these concerns. If the reforms we recommend are not introduced forthwith, the only alternative is for the government to step in.”

MPs found the problems at Bury preceded the tenure of the current owner Steve Dale, and say the EFL must share the blame for having allowed the situation at the club to have deteriorated for so long.

During the inquiry, the DCMS claim it found compelling evidence of "failings at every level of football governance".

This is something that has long been argued by Blackpool supporters, who were left furious by the lack of action during their battle with despised former owner Owen Oyston.

Pool fans have long campaigned for change in the way football is run, previously launching a petition calling on the government to introduce an independent regulator.