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Burnham – football is at crossroads

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Andy Burnham has accused football of losing touch with its grassroots, alienating fans and gambling with the future of our national game.

And, amid mounting concerns over the buying and selling of Britain’s football clubs, Burnham has questioned the validity of the Premier League’s Fit and Proper Person’s test – and demanded tougher FA vetting of potential new club owners

"Football feels as though it is now at a crossroads”, Burnham said.

"It is time to ask what we want our game to be before it changes around us and something precious is lost."

Burnham, who recently met with FA Chairman Lord Triesman to both discuss club ownership and the protection of home-grown talent, added: "Regulation has to be led by the FA – it is not for the government to run football – I want the FA to step up to the challenge and lead an in-depth look at regulating the finance of football, for the overall health of the game.”

The Culture Media and Sport Secretary has also called on Lord Triesman to “rise to the challenge” and address the current lack of competition in the Premier League.

“In the USA, the most free-market country in the world, they understand that equal distribution of money in the NFL creates genuine competition, which is good for the league. The danger in England is that individual clubs rush for the money today, without considering the long-term future."

Burnham is a known opponent of the rampant commercialism of modern day football having been a former chair of Supporters Direct and administrator at the Football Task Force and is thought to have been holding back his views until today.

As with the comments made by Lord Triesman at the FSF Fans’ Parliament back in July, Burnham’s remarks represent a promising step in the right direction. At long last, we appear to have politicians who willing to stand up for football and its supporters.

Momentum is certainly gathering behind several issues the FSF has long been campaigning on, and we hope the next few years will see genuine change.


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