FAIR Game today called for an immediate commitment by all political parties to a comprehensive overhaul of the governance of football. The call comes on the day the fixtures were released for the English Football League, with doubts still over whether Derby County will be able to complete the season.

A catalogue of financial issues coupled with delays has put the very future of the Rams under question.

Niall Couper, CEO of Fair Game, said:

“Fans should be looking forward to the start of a new season, not living in fear over whether their club will still be in existence at the end of it.”

“Poor governance at clubs allows owners like those at Derby County to hide their risk-taking behaviours putting centuries of tradition and community at risk.”

“We need a firm commitment from our main political parties to deliver a real overhaul of football and quickly. We cannot allow any proposals to be kicked into the long grass. Football needs an independent regulator now.”

Tonight, Fair Game puts the subject of good governance under the spotlight with a free online panel. The panel is the third in the series The Sustainability Index Explained and will see the former CEO of the FA and current owner of Tranmere Rovers, Mark Palios; the former Sports Minister Richard Caborn; governance expert Radojka Milijevic from Campbell Tickell; and Nick Hawker, the Chair of Exeter City; debate the issue chaired by the acclaimed broadcaster Julian Waters. To register for the session click here.

The Fan-Led Review presented evidence that poor governance practices at clubs allow owners to act unilaterally, with short-term interests that conflict with the long-term interests of fans. Issues that led to the demise of Bury and Macclesfield.

If, as being suggested in some quarters, the financial flow to the Championship is decided through a merit-based system it would expose poor corporate governance and exacerbate the risk-taking behaviour of poor owners seeking to make a quick dollar.

Independent analysis of effective regulation from financial business experts LCP concluded that the most successful regulation often uses financial incentives to change behaviours, including governance.

However, no such incentive is currently being proposed in football. Fair Game believes the Sustainability Index would provide that incentive and ensure that best practice by football clubs is both encouraged and rewarded.

Analysis released this month from Fair Game reveal a massive 97% of clubs below the Premier League are potentially missing out on millions each year – a status quo that will not end until the current broken financial flow is replaced by a more sustainable and fair system. The Sustainability Index, proposes four core changes to the current distribution model:

  • A return to pre-Sky percentage level of media split to 25% (currently 14%)

  • Divisional funds based largely on average division attendance

  • Funds being distributed down to National League North and South

  • Funds allocated to the top two women’s divisions

The Index looks to then weight the payments according to how highly a club scores on four criteria: Financial Sustainability, Good Governance, Equality Standards and Fan & Community Engagement.

The importance of good governance in football will be discussed as the third part of Fair Game’s Sustainability Index: Explained programme tonight. Previous sessions on financial sustainability and equality standards were held earlier in June, whilst the final session on fan and community engagement will be held on Thursday 30 June at 6.30pm.

Niall Couper added:

“The Index is essential – we need a fresh approach to the financial flow. But the Index is not just about distribution for distribution’s sake. We must also look to deliver culture change.

“We need to encourage clubs to be financially sustainable, to adopt good governance, to treat equality standards as more than just a tick-box exercise, and to have meaningful fan and community engagement.

“The Premier League can help secure football’s ecosystem. If not, then it is clear that the responsibility must fall to a new Independent Regulator.

“The status quo betrays the 157 towns that are currently seeing their clubs losing out.”

By Editor

Lifelong Hereford supporter who has endured the rise and fall of the club through progressive generations. Sports journalist, broadcaster and commentator who will never forget his Edgar Street roots.

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