The MP Tracey Crouch has come up with a plan to change the way football in England is run. It looks like it might be adopted.
Hi, I’m Chloe and this is the Playmaker.
One story every day to make sense of the world of football.
Today, the proposals to fundamentally reshape professional football in England.
Is the fan-led Review of football governance a recipe for success or disaster?
To do it justice, we are looking at the review over two episodes.
Tomorrow we hear from those who oppose it. But today, the arguments in favour of an independent regulator for English football.
Tracey Crouch is the MP for Chatham and Aylesford. She has been a football fan since she was a young girl, kicking the ball in the street with boys from her estate.
She supports Tottenham.
And she was chair of the review into football in England.
It was, she says, an “absolute privilege.”
The review itself was sparked by an attempt in April by six English clubs to join a new super league in Europe.
“Twelve of Europe’s leading football clubs have today come together to announce they have agreed to establish a new midweek competition, the Super League, governed by its founding clubs. Who are the founding clubs? Confirmation. AC Milan, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Barcelona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur have all joined as founding clubs.”Sky Sports
It didn’t take long for the breakaway to break apart – thanks to intense pressure from fans.
But it had given English football a massive shock. And so it was decided to hold an urgent review into how football was governed.
Tracey Crouch says that they heard more than a hundred hours of evidence from a range of voices. And crucially, they included the fans.
She heard from the big clubs, as you’d expect. But crucially, she heard from the small ones too – because one of the aims of the review was to look at how to prevent clubs like Bury from disappearing altogether.
“Football should be, you know, exempt from government. It should be something that’s separate from government. But if they don’t sort themselves out, then you know, we will intervene. I can’t count how many times there’s been last chance saloons in football. So, you know, I think that unfortunately, we’ve got to that position where they’ve had their last chances and it is important now that we have a look to see what we can do to protect the game of football going forward.”Times Radio
So what’s to be done?
The government, says Tracey Crouch, should create an independent regulator whose task is to ensure that professional football has a long-term future.
A regulator would vet potential owners more stringently, and they would keep a much closer eye on financial dealings.
There would be more accountability.
Clubs would have to prove that they are playing by the rules.
“There would also be limits on the amount of money that owners can put into a club to stop competitions getting distorted, while fans could also be given a golden share, which could veto certain key decisions from changing the club name for example, or selling the ground.”Sky Sports
The review addresses a lot of topics, such as the welfare of young players, equality and inclusion, recognition of each club’s importance to the local community and regulation of agents, and ensuring parity for the women’s game.
Plus, and this is a key proposal, it wants wealth to be distributed throughout the divisions by a ten percent levy on Premier League transfer fees, a tax of sorts on England’s richest clubs to ensure the survival of the smallest ones.
The Football Supporters Association are in favour of the review.
“The government promised a fan-led review. That process has listened to the voice of fans, heard what they’ve said and a lot of recommendations that we’ve been pushing for, for the independent regulation of the game, for a voice of the fans to be built into the structure of the game at every level… all of that has been acted on and we think there’s a lot of positive stuff coming out of this.”Beanyman News – YouTube
Accrington Stanley Chairman Andy Holt says Tracey Crouch’s recommendations are the only way forward.
According to him, there is no Plan B.
He says that clubs sometimes gamble everything on buying an expensive squad to get promoted to the top flight.
So much so, that they can jeopardise their entire existence. It takes only a glimpse at Derby’s current predicament – bottom of the Championship with substantial debts – to see what happens when things go wrong.
It’s true that the Premier League supports lower leagues financially.
But as Andy Holt points out, half of the money goes to relegated clubs in parachute payments. He says League One and League Two clubs currently receive about 30 million pounds between them each year.
Under the proposed system, there would be a pot of around 160 million to go around.
So you can see that there is a lot of support for the proposals put together by Tracey Crouch.
The government will respond to the recommendations in the spring.
That’s all for now. Don’t miss tomorrow’s episode when we will look at the other side of the argument.
Today’s episode was written by me, Chloe Beresford, and produced by Matt Russell.