Western Morning News

MP calls for a change in governance

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AN MP has brought forward a bill to introduce an independen­t regulator in football, saying the current system of governance is “broken”.

Helen Grant, the Conservati­ve MP for Maidstone and The Weald and a former sports minister, is part of a steering group which has put forward a ‘Manifesto for Change’.

Other members of the group include former Manchester United and England defender Gary

Neville and ex-Football

Associatio­n chairman David Bernstein.

The regulator formed part of a new Football (Regulation) Bill brought forward by Grant, and it is proposed that it would have the authority to distribute funds, implement a club licensing system, review the causes of financial stress within the game and “modernise and strengthen the FA”, an organisati­on she described as “outdated and out of touch”.

It follows a turbulent period in the English game, including the rejection of ‘Project Big Picture’ proposals put forward by

Liverpool and Manchester United which would have placed greater decision-making power in the hands of the country’s biggest clubs, and months of negotiatio­ns over a rescue package for EFL clubs from the Premier League.

The English top flight is working on a strategic review, but Grant likened this to “a student marking their own homework” and said true independen­ce was required to ensure the fair governance of football.

Grant told the Commons: “The governance of English football is broken. Our national game, the beautiful game, is in crisis.

“These issues are not new but have been laid bare and amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic during which, sadly, football has failed to speak with one voice.

“We’ve seen much-loved clubs go to the wall, sadly many more may well follow. And at the heart of this is broken governance and gross financial disparitie­s between the rich clubs and the poor clubs and unsustaina­ble business models.

“Indeed, it’s staggering that the wage bills of Championsh­ip clubs are equal to 110 per cent of their revenues - just one example of the downward spiral as lower league clubs seek the financial nirvana that Premier League promotion dangles.

“Ultimately, it’s the loyal football supporters and communitie­s up and down the country who suffer the most.

“Football is different to any other sector of the economy, it’s not just a business, this is our national sport.

“We in this place (the House of Commons) and the other place (the House of Lords) surely have responsibi­lity to protect them from maladminis­tration, blinkered leadership and commercial suicide.”

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