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Plans revealed to protect the future of English football

We will comment further after the white paper is published

22 February 2023

Club News

Plans revealed to protect the future of English football

We will comment further after the white paper is published

22 February 2023

It has been announced by the Government that football fans and their clubs will be given greater protections under a “radical transformation” of the rules governing how football is run in England.

Among the headline proposals – more details will follow in the publication of the fan-led white paper tomorrow – are plans for a new independent regulator to help prevent a repeat of financial failings seen at Derby County, Bury and Macclesfield Town.

As a fan-owned club, we welcome supporters having a greater say in the running of clubs with sustainability at the forefront, but we'll wait to review the white paper in its entirety before making further comment.

More on the government’s announcement is published below, starting with the key proposals, which are as follows:

  • New independent regulator to help prevent repeat of financial failings at clubs in recent years.
  • Strengthened owners’ and directors’ test to protect clubs and their fans from unscrupulous owners.
  • Fans given greater say over running of clubs, and key heritage such as team names, badges and stadia at core of new plans.
  • Powers to block English clubs from joining unpopular breakaway leagues like the European Super League.
  • Plans follow the Government accepting recommendations from the Fan-Led Review of Football Governance, led by Tracey Crouch MP.

Acknowledging the English game as one of the UK’s greatest cultural exports, the Government has taken steps that it believes will ensure this continues for generations to come.

The move follows the Government’s 2019 manifesto commitment to deliver a fan-led review of football governance, in light of the failings at historic clubs such as Bury and Macclesfield Town.

More recently, in 2021, plans for a breakaway European Super League by a select group of Premier League and other European elite clubs were shelved.

In 2020/21, the Championship reported a wage-to-revenue ratio average of 125 per cent - meaning clubs were stretching themselves far beyond their means - and in recent months multiple clubs throughout the leagues have failed to meet their payroll. Derby County FC found itself on the brink of liquidation last year.

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said: “I know how much football means to this country, and I want to see the domestic league continue its incredible success at home and abroad.

“So today we are stepping in to secure the long-term future of the national game and put fans right back at the heart of how football is run.

“Our plans will ensure that clubs manage their finances in a responsible way, and prevent unscrupulous owners from treating clubs as expendable commodities rather than the beloved community assets that they are.

“This is about protecting the beautiful game, making sure we remain home to the strongest league in the world, and safeguarding clubs big and small across the country.”

Chief Executive of the Football Supporters Association Kevin Miles added: “The Football Supporters Association engaged in the fan-led review from day one and we warmly welcome the historic commitment from the Government to introduce an independent regulator of English football.

“The football governance white paper clearly addresses our key concerns around ownership, rogue competitions and sustainability and of course we support any proposals that offer fans a greater voice in the running of their clubs.

“We look forward to engaging with the Government on the next steps.”

In order to secure the financial sustainability of clubs at all levels, a solution led by those running the leagues and their clubs is needed, and remains the Government’s preferred outcome.

However, if the football authorities cannot reach an agreement the regulator would have targeted powers of last resort to intervene and facilitate an agreement as and when necessary.

As part of its wide ranging remit the regulator will also:

  • Ensure club directors demonstrate good basic financial practices, have appropriate financial resources and protect the core assets of the club.
  • Improve governance through the introduction of a Football Club Corporate Governance Code.
  • Remain proportionate and adaptive in its approach with checks and balances embedded in its design.

The Government will now begin the process of engagement and further consultation with selected stakeholders on the key reforms set out in its white paper. Plans to bring forward legislation will be announced as soon as parliamentary time allows.

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