25 April 2022

Fair Game wants ‘a firm timetable’ to implement fan-led review recommendations

25 April 2022

A reform group has warned “there can be no more delay or dithering” on implementing football’s fan-led review.

The Government will formally respond to the review later on Monday but has already indicated it endorses the review’s strategic recommendations.

These include the creation of an independent regulator, greater consultation with fans via shadow boards, additional protections for key items of club heritage and fairer distribution of money from the top of the game down the football pyramid.

But there is uncertainty over when any meaningful change may come, with no timetable in place to get the legislation needed to underpin the regulator.

Niall Couper, the chief executive of Fair Game, a group which campaigns for the reform of the English game, said: “The announcement at last offers a real opportunity to save football.

“The argument for an independent regulator is now over. There is huge cross-party political support for it and the ideas put forward by Fair Game and the fan-led review.

“What we need now is a firm timetable for change. There can be no more delay or dithering.

For too long the challenges in our national game have been booted down the road by the football authorities and successive governments putting our clubs on the edge of ruin.

“If reform is allowed to be kicked into the long grass, it will represent the death knell to the hard-working clubs at the centre of our towns and communities.

“The financial situation at most clubs is perilous. For too long the challenges in our national game have been booted down the road by the football authorities and successive governments putting our clubs on the edge of ruin.

“Let’s end the culture of gambling that has seen clubs spend more than they earn, a culture that sidelines the views of fans, pays no more than lip service to equality standards, and is devoid of any financial scrutiny.

“Legislation has the power to change football and protect our community clubs for the generations to come.”

The review was commissioned a year ago, brought forward by the Government in the wake of the Super League scandal, with the review panel’s recommendations published last November.

EFL chairman Rick Parry is seeking the abolition of parachute payments and a 25 per cent cut of future broadcast revenues in a new deal with the Premier League (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Archive)

The Government endorses the review’s call for fairer distribution of Premier League broadcast revenue to the rest of the pyramid, but still wants football’s authorities to come up with a solution rather than imposing one if possible.

The Premier League and EFL have shown no sign of reaching one and the Government is open to the idea of giving the regulator backstop powers to enforce a solution.

Couper added: “The football authorities must now grow up and create a financial system that rewards hard-working community clubs and stops giving money to failed Premier League clubs through parachute payments.

“We need a sustainability index. A system which grades clubs according to how they score on four criteria – financial sustainability, good governance, equality standards and fan and community engagement. The higher they score the more money they get.”

Couper said it was “disappointing” that the Government’s initial release did not mention the levy on international transfers talked about in the review as one method to raise extra revenue for the pyramid.

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