Government establishes independent football regulator for English football to protect ‘rich heritage’

To prevent clubs from bankruptcy, protect the sanctity of the football pyramid, and prevent club owners from changing team names, club colors, or moving stadiums without their consent, the government It proposes the establishment of independent regulators of football in England and Wales. of fans.

Regulators have the power to block British clubs from participating in elite structures like the European Superleague, a ‘closed shop’ with no promotion or relegation.

In April 2021, fans of Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham protested the signing of these club owners for the European Super League.

The plan eventually fell apart after violent protests that resulted in the Manchester United game being called off.

In a white paper released on Thursday, the government promised to step up ‘fitness’ tests to prevent football clubs from falling into the wrong hands, preventing historic clubs from going bankrupt. said it was intended. embed We did it in 2019.

Speaking to Parliament, Sports Minister Stuart Andrew said: A devastated fanbase still trying to come to terms with the loss of a beloved club. “

Football finances in ‘jeopardy’

Andrew says: The combined net debt of Premier League and Championship clubs is now around £6bn. “

He said English football’s second-tier clubs “spend an unsustainable 125% of their earnings on player wages”.

Andrew says: But we often hear of flagrant financial malfeasance, unsustainable risk-taking and poor governance pushing clubs to the brink. “

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Chelsea fans protest outside London’s Stamford Bridge Stadium on 20 April 2021 against Chelsea’s decision to be included in the club’s attempt to form the new European Super League. (Matt Dunham/AP Photo)

and statementPrime Minister Rishi Sunak said football clubs have provided “a source of pride for the community and inspiration for millions of fans” since England’s first football league was established in 1888.

“These bold new plans will bring fans back to the heart of football, preserve the rich heritage and traditions of our beloved club, and preserve our beautiful game for future generations,” Snack said.

The white paper proposal was prepared after the government accepted recommendations from the Fan-Led Review of Football Governance, led by Conservative MP Tracy Crouch.

“Today is an important day for football in this country and I am pleased that the government has acted on the key strategic recommendations in my review,” Crouch said.

The proposed independent regulator will target clubs in England’s Premier League and football’s second, third, fourth and fifth tier clubs, including four clubs in Wales.

Not applicable to Scottish football clubs.

Unlike baseball, basketball and the NFL in the United States, English football has historically seen clubs firmly established in one geographical location.

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Fans gather to protest the Manchester United owners before the English Premier League game between Manchester United and Liverpool in Manchester, England, 22 August 2022. (Peter Byrne/PA via AP Photo)

The only exception is Milton Keynes Dons, formed in 2004 after the owners of Wimbledon, formerly known as The Dons, decided to move the club from south-west London.

Most Wimbledon fans were outraged by this decision and eventually formed their own club, AFC Wimbledon. AFC Wimbledon had to start at the bottom of his football pyramid before reaching League One and being relegated last year.

Kieran Maguire, an associate professor of football finance at the University of Liverpool, said there were no major surprises in the white paper, but that he had decided to withdraw the transfer fee option being considered.

Maguire, author of The Price of Football, told The Epoch Times that the regulator should be a “light touch” and a “regulator of last resort.”

he said: Even if United and their club go out of business, the affection cannot go elsewhere because it’s a different type of relationship. “

Supporting English football clubs is a ‘cultural thing’

Maguire said most English clubs date back to the late 19th and early 20th century. It’s a cultural connection that doesn’t exist in American franchise sports, a connection between clubs and individuals. “

The government’s proposal would allow each club’s fans to have a greater say in how the club operates and prevent owners from changing names, badges, or the color of home shirts without fan approval. said.

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Everton player Seamus Coleman walks past fans as they storm the pitch to celebrate Everton’s relegation avoidance at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, 19 May 2022. (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

2012, Malaysian owner of Cardiff City, Vincent Tan, changed the team’s first team color from blue to red, believing it would bring “good luck”. But the team was always known as the Bluebirds, and fans were outraged: three years later, he succumbed to pressure and reversed his move.

Hull City’s Egyptian owners also tried to change the team’s name to the Hull Tigers, despite widespread opposition from fans.

Originally there were 92 clubs in the English Football League (including four in Wales), but the Elite English Premier League was launched in 1992, leaving opportunities for promotion and relegation.

Last and this season Everton, who have been in the top tier since 1951 and traditionally one of the eight biggest clubs in English football, have suffered relegation.

Since 1992 and the dawn of the Premier League, a growing imbalance between the richest and poorest clubs in English football has brought 64 clubs under control.