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Three former sports ministers urge the Government to implement a football regulator

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EXCLUSIVE: Three former sports ministers urge the Government to intervene and implement a regulator as football is in ‘CRISIS’ and spending ‘fiascos’ need to be stopped

  • Calls for football to appoint an independent regulator have grown louder 
  • Three ex-sports ministers have now told Sportsmail of the need for a regulator 
  • Richard Caborn, Gerry Sutcliffe and Helen Grant believe ‘football is in crisis’ 











Three former sports ministers have added their voices to the growing calls for an independent regulator for English football, saying the game is ‘in crisis’, and in a ‘last-chance saloon’, kowtowing to the ‘powerful interests’ of a handful of the biggest clubs.

In a letter to Sportsmail, Richard Caborn, Gerry Sutcliffe and Helen Grant, who between them served for 11 years as Sports Minister between 2001 and 2015, today urge the government to appoint a regulator, as is likely to be recommend this week by MP Tracey Crouch’s fan-led review into the game’s governance problems.

Crouch, a qualified football coach, was Minister for Sport in 2017-18, and the preliminary findings of her review, published in July, suggested her final report, due in the coming days, will implore Boris Johnson’s government to regulate the sport.

Concern among the three ex-sports ministers surrounds unsustainable spending in the EFL

Concern among the three ex-sports ministers surrounds unsustainable spending in the EFL

It is expected any such regulator would attempt to address the massive financial gulf between the Premier League and the rest of the game, encourage greater fan participation at clubs, and bolster ‘fit and proper person’ ownership tests.

‘Without a new independent regulator, we will continue to see fiascos like the failed European Super League, the seriously flawed owners’ and directors’ test and the demise of historic clubs like Bury and Macclesfield Town,’ say Caborn, Sutcliffe and Grant.

‘That’s why we welcome the review by Tracey Crouch MP, which will call on the government to seize this opportunity to change the way football is run.

‘Our current system encourages those who gamble with clubs’ futures, putting at risk the heritage and traditions of our national game, which is so important to towns, clubs, and fans across the country. We need a new system that rewards clubs that are well-governed, financially sustainable, and strongly linked to their fanbase.

Bury were kicked out of the league due to poor financial management and overspending

Bury were kicked out of the league due to poor financial management and overspending

‘A new regulator would help balance the interests of the top one per cent in football with the other 99 per cent. A club relegated from the Premier League receives £55m – more money than all 144 clubs in Leagues One and Two, the Women’s Super League and the National League combined.

‘This encourages unsustainable spending in the Championship, endangering clubs like Derby County, while denying most clubs in the UK their fair share.

‘In the decades we have spent in office, we have seen these problems arise again and again. We are now beyond what Tracey Crouch called the ‘last-chance saloon’. We need to seize this opportunity to create a body with teeth, which has the power to hold these powerful interests to account.’

The three ex-sports ministers also endorse the work of the campaigning group ‘Fair Game’, a coalition of 31 ‘value-driven’ football clubs including AFC Wimbledon, Luton, Lincoln, Carlisle and Cambridge.

‘It’s time to draw a line under the sand with the past,’ says Niall Couper, Fair Game’s CEO. ‘The football authorities have failed to deliver for decades and that’s why we need an independent regulator.’

LETTER TO THE EDITOR 

Football is in crisis. Without a new independent regulator, we will continue to see fiascos like the failed European Super League, the seriously flawed owners and directors test and the demise of historic clubs like Bury and Macclesfield Town.

That’s why we welcome the Review by Tracey Crouch MP, which will call on the government to seize this once in a lifetime opportunity to change the way football is run.

Our current system encourages those who gamble with clubs’ futures: putting at risk the heritage and traditions of our national game, which is so important to towns, clubs, and fans across the country. We need a new system that rewards clubs that are well-governed, financially sustainable, and strongly linked to their fanbase.

A new regulator would help balance the interests of the top 1% in football with the other 99%. A club relegated from the Premier League receives £55m that is more money than all 144 clubs in Leagues One and Two, the Women’s Super League and the National League combined. This encourages completely unsustainable spending in the Championship, endangering clubs like Derby County, while denying most clubs in the UK their fair share.

In the decades we have spent in office, we have seen these problems arise again and again. We are now beyond what Tracey Crouch called the ‘last chance saloon’. We need to seize this opportunity to create a body with teeth, which has the power to hold these powerful interests to account.

But like Tracey Crouch said in her letter to the Secretary of State ‘…..it may also be that at some point in the future a substantially reformed FA could absorb the functions of an independent regulator, though evidence received indicates this possibility is some way off.’

Fair Game represents 31 clubs, and hundreds of thousands of fans across the UK and we join their calls for the government to implement the measures in this report to help save football for the fans, now and in the future.

Signed by

Richard Caborn, Sports Minister, 2001-2007

Gerry Sutcliffe, Sports Minister, 2007-2010

Helen Grant, Sports Minister, 2013-2015



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