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Fan-led Review: “Potentially a huge step forward”

The Fan-led Review of Football Governance, chaired by Tracey Crouch MP, was published today (24th November 2021). Supporters’ groups from around 130 different clubs took part, along with the football authorities, during more than 100 hours of evidence gathering sessions.

The review aimed to “explore ways of improving the governance, ownership and financial sustainability of clubs in English football” and “engage extensively with fans to ensure any recommendations are led by fans’ experience and interests.” 

Kevin Miles, chief executive of the FSA, said:

“This is potentially a huge step forward for football governance – the Government committed to a fan-led review which has listened to the voice of fans. It’s now up to the Government to deliver upon the recommendations.

“The review’s proposals to strengthen the voice of supporters in the game, protect football’s heritage and the pyramid, and provide genuine independent regulation, lay the basis for a prosperous and sustainable future for football at all levels.” 

Key recommendations include:

  • The Government should create a new independent regulator for English football (IREF) established by an Act of Parliament based upon specialist business regulation adapted to the football industry. IREF should operate a licensing system for professional men’s football.
  • To ensure financial sustainability of the professional game, IREF should oversee financial regulation in football which should be based upon prudential regulation in other industries recognising that football is obviously sport but also now big business.
  • New owners’ and directors’ tests for clubs should be established by IREF replacing the three existing tests to ensure that only good custodians and qualified directors can run these vitally important community and cultural assets.
  • There should be a new corporate governance code to support a long-term sustainable future of the game. This should be mandatory for all professional clubs with common requirements tailored to different leagues.
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) plans should be mandatory for all clubs with EDI Action Plans regularly assessed by IREF.
  • As every club’s most important stakeholder, supporters should be properly consulted by their clubs in taking key decisions by means of a Shadow Board. Effective supporter engagement should be a licence condition and overseen by IREF.
  • There should be additional protection for key items of club heritage through a “Golden Share” requiring supporter consent and overseen by IREF.
  • There is a strong case for additional contributions from The Premier League to further support the future of the football pyramid including a new solidarity transfer levy paid by top-flight on buying players from overseas or from other Premier League clubs.
  • Women’s football should be treated with parity and given its own dedicated review to guarantee its future recognising the significant steps forward taken in recent years but also the unique challenges facing the game.
  • The welfare of players exiting the game needs to be better protected – particularly at a young age – and all stakeholders should work together on improving this including the provision of proactive mental health care and support. 

Tracey Crouch MP, chair of the review, said: “Our national game is at a crossroads with the proposed European Super League just one of many illustrations of deep seated problems in the game.

“The commitment and passion of the fans who have contributed to the review has been genuinely humbling to see. Where this passion had been betrayed by owners it has been heartbreaking – and testimony from those who had lost their club in Bury particularly so. 

“The sophistication of thought about the problems of the game and solutions presented by those fans was also remarkable. It is often said that football would be nothing without the fans. The same can be said for this review and I want to thank each and every one who has contributed.”

Tracey Crouch was supported in her work by an Expert Panel comprising Dawn Airey, Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Clarke Carlisle, Danny Finkelstein, Roy Hodgson, Dan Jones, David Mahoney, Kevin Miles, Godric Smith and James Tedford.

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  • Premier Leage Fans Fund

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