In April 2021 six clubs from the Premier League attempted to rip up more than a century of tradition by creating a stitched-up European Super League with a handful of other clubs across the continent.
The backlash was huge with supporters across all leagues, including from those clubs behind the proposals, making their disgust clear. Soon enough Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur backed out, but the story didn’t end there.
The Government launched its manifesto commitment of a Fan-led Review of Football Governance which the Football Supporters’ Association was heavily involved in shaping – supplying detailed policy ideas and ensuring 130+ of our member supporter organisations gave evidence.
Earlier this year the Government confirmed it would push on with its promise to create a football regulator – and a commitment to legislation has been included in the 7th November King’s Speech.
“Legislation will be brought forward to safeguard the future of football clubs for the benefit of communities and fans.” – King Charles III.
The King’s Speech marks the state opening of Parliament as the Government sets out its future priorities – the laws it wishes to pass in the next session of Parliament. The detail of that legislation will be outlined in an upcoming Parliamentary bill.
Malcolm Clarke, chair of the FSA, said: “We have argued for many years that an independent regulator was needed to protect our historic football clubs and ensure long term financial stability across the game.
“That now looks set to happen as a regulator will be given powers to intervene at all levels when a bad owner, through incompetence or worse, threatens a club’s very existence.
“There have been far too many clubs in crisis throughout the pyramid and they cannot be allowed to fail – supporters deserve better and this represents a very significant step forward.
“No-one cares more about a club than its supporters, they’ll be there after others are long gone, and supporters should be at the heart of their club’s decision making processes.
“We will continue to work constructively with the Government and football authorities to give supporters a stronger voice and establish an independent regulator with the powers it needs to protect our clubs.”
FAIR GAME today welcomed the announcement of a new Independent Regulator for Football (IREF) in the King’s Speech as a “historic moment for football”.
The inclusion of a new Football Bill in the King’s Speech is a watershed moment for our National Game. This momentous step can potentially end the vicious cycle that sees the survival of football clubs under threat daily. It is a potential that, Fair Game believe, must not be wasted.
Fair Game CEO Niall Couper said:
“Today’s announcement is a historic moment for football and represents a real chance to end the cycle of overspending and mismanagement that has plagued our National Game and threatened the very existence of our clubs.
“Right now clubs like Sheffield Wednesday, Reading and Scunthorpe United are staring into the abyss.
“There will be intense pressure to weaken the regulator’s remit at a time when proper protection and scrutiny of our National Game is needed more than ever.
“Those tasked with setting up the regulator must resist that pressure and remain laser-focused to deliver a fairer future for football and the culture change the sport desperately needs.
“Reckless spending, disconnect between clubs and their communities, and lip service to equality standards must be consigned to the rubbish bin of history. This transformation can only be achieved if the regulator has the teeth and resources to deliver.”
“Football clubs are unique businesses. They are community assets, steeped in history and tradition, and act as role models for society.
“We believe the regulator has a huge responsibility and must have the powers to impose the new rules, create a fairer financial flow, and, crucially, help clubs introduce the changes required.
“While it will be a drop in the ocean to clubs like Manchester City, who have almost unlimited resources, for clubs like Accrington Stanley, AFC Wimbledon and Dorking Wanderers, who have only a handful of full-time staff, it could be the difference between survival or not.
“A new license fee based on a percentage of revenue should be introduced and used in part to provide staffing support across the top seven divisions.”