23 November 2021

Independent regulator and veto power – what to expect from fan-led review

23 November 2021

Football’s governance is poised for a shake-up with the recommendations of a fan-led review set to be published late on Wednesday evening.

Here the PA news agency takes a closer look.

What is the fan-led review?

It was promised by the Government as part of its manifesto for the 2019 General Election. The intention had been to wait until the worst of the coronavirus pandemic was over but the Super League storm in April prompted the Government to kickstart it.

Who is involved?

Roy Hodgson is part of the fan-led review panel (John Walton/PA) (PA Wire)

The review panel is chaired by Tracey Crouch, a Conservative MP and former Sports Minister. The 10 other panellists include former England manager Roy Hodgson, Everton chief executive Denise Barrett-Baxendale and Football Supporters’ Association chief executive Kevin Miles.

What is it expected to recommend?

Tracey Crouch said in July that in the review panel’s view an independent regulator for English football was required (Jonathan Brady/PA) (PA Archive)

Most eye-catchingly, an independent regulator. Crouch wrote to the then Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, in July with her interim findings and said such a regulator was required. She said at the time she believed it should have oversight of financial regulation in the game, corporate governance and ownership, but that it should not play a role in “football issues” like the running of leagues.

What else might be recommended?

UK football policing lead Chief Constable Mark Roberts described a pilot scheme to allow fans to drink in the stands or in their seat as “irresponsible” (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Archive)

In July Crouch said there should be “meaningful discussion” between the EFL and the National League over the top league in the latter competition being absorbed into the EFL.

Crouch said she and the review panel would identify proposals to give fans veto powers over reserved items such as the club badge, colours and competition, which could be held by a “democratic legally constituted fan group” and be used to stop any future attempts at clubs entering breakaway leagues.

It is also expected to look at how money flows within and between leagues, amid calls from the EFL for the scrapping of parachute payments to clubs relegated from the Premier League. Crouch told The Times in September that the review would call for a pilot scheme to allow fans to drink in sight of the pitch in the National League and League Two, a move which was criticised as “irresponsible” by the UK’s football policing lead Chief Constable Mark Roberts of Cheshire Police.

How can the recommendations become reality?

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston says the Government will move to enact legislation where needed to support the recommendations of the fan-led review (Fabio De Paola/PA) (PA Wire)

Through legislation. Dowden said in July he would not hesitate to take “bold steps” to reform football and current Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said last week any legislation required would be brought forward “as quickly as possible” and added: “I would say the football ecosystem is not fit for purpose at the moment as currently constructed.”

What have football’s governing bodies said?

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters does not believe there is a need for an independent regulator (Mike Egerton/PA) (PA Wire)

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has previously stated he does not believe an independent regulator is required. The Daily Mail reported last week that EFL chairman Rick Parry had written to Crouch supporting the idea of a regulator and seeking a constructive debate on the scope of regulation required.

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