English Football’s Independent Regulator - How will it work?
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English Football’s Independent Regulator - How will it work?

19/03/24 19:49

The bill to introduce an independent regulator to English Football was finally put forward yesterday in government and the football world has had time to process. It has been a long time coming as the origins of this motion take us back to 2021 and the big six breaking away into the Super League. Since then, the idea of an independent regulator has only gained more support due to the situations regarding Chelsea and Manchester City or even the vastly different and tragic case of Reading. But what changes would this bill put in place?

Inside the bill it states that it will “give fans a greater voice in the running of their clubs“, which given the many situations regarding ownership in this country over the years is perfectly understandable. The decisions around what was included inside the bill followed on from a fan led review in 2022 so the focus is on what is best for them instead of the big money corporations involved in the game.

It also directly references the Super League as it states that it will block “Breakaway closed-shop competitions such as the European Super League.” While this doesn’t prevent a Super League from ever happening, it certainly prevents an English club’s involvement in one which gives us back the integrity to our game which was lost in April 2021.

Another focus of the bill is that it will “promote financial sustainability” which is very relevant due to the recent point deductions for both Everton and Nottingham Forest, as well as the potential punishments for Man City and Chelsea. However, instead of looking at this change as one which antagonises those that break the rules, we should view it as a movement to encourage clubs to spend their money and ultimately function differently. We all want our clubs to succeed but we don’t want club’s betting their own existence on a transfer window or new owner as Bury unfortunately experienced in 2019.

The fourth and final focus of the bill is that it will implement “strengthened owners’ and directors’ tests”, which is an encouraging point for fans in the EFL after many clubs have been dangerously close to falling apart. Reading fans will be reading this news hoping for the bill to be passed as soon as possible to help their club avoid making the same mistake again if they manage to find a new owner.

Overall the bill is focusing on preventing the Premier league from becoming too powerful, helping clubs become more self-sufficient, and protecting clubs lower down the pyramid from being exploited. I don’t see why any football fan would have a problem with any of this. The fact that the Premier League hasn’t welcomed the bill in a statement suggesting it could “weaken the competitiveness and appeal of English football” strengthens the case for there being a regulator. This bill is a threat to the Premier League’s power, and it is needed.

The Prime minister, Rishi Sunak, has spoken about the bill's introduction saying; “this Bill is a historic moment for football fans – it will make sure their voices are front and centre, prevent a breakaway league, protect the financial sustainability of clubs, and protect the heritage of our clubs big and small.”

Whether Rishi Sunak will be the Prime Minister to oversee the bill being passed remains to be seen, but it is very likely for this bill to eventually come through due to the overwhelming support it has on both sides of the political spectrum. If Labour is to win the next general election, Arsenal supporting Keir Starmer will be proud to help bring through the change if he comes into power.

After the depressing announcement of the super league nearly three years ago and the downfall of Bury five years ago, English Football is now looking to prevent those lows from happening ever again. The beautiful game is in good hands.

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