Western Morning News
MP calls for a change in governance
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the causes of financial stress within the game and “modernise and strengthen the FA”, an organisation she described as “outdated and out of touch”.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.”