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Fan-led Review recommends radical reform to game’s regulation

A new independent regulator, along with other significant reforms to football’s governance, is urgently needed to protect the game’s future according to the interim report from the Fan-led Review.

Today the Fan-led Review chair Tracey Crouch MP has written to the Government with her initial findings, which recommend wholesale reform to the rules governing football throughout the pyramid.

“In order to protect the future key aspects of our national game a new independent regulator for English football (IREF) is needed,” Crouch told secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden MP.

“Football clubs are not ordinary businesses. They play a critical social, civic, and cultural role in their local communities. They need to be protected.”

In her interim report, Crouch is recommending the establishment of an independent regulator which will oversee a new club licensing system to improve the standard of ownership across the game.

Additionally, the report recommends legislation to make supporter engagement mandatory, wide-ranging reform of existing football authorities, improving equality and diversity in the game, and providing democratic supporter groups with a ‘golden share’ in their clubs. This share would provide fans the power of veto over certain issues.

“It is the voice of fans that has been loudest and clearest,” Crouch said.

“It is absolutely evident from our sessions that the football authorities have lost the trust and confidence of the fans as have, in a number of cases, clubs themselves.”

These reforms would also be coupled with significant changes to the game’s financial distribution and how it currently shares wealth from top-to-bottom – the recommendations would see an end to parachute payments and replace them with more equitable distribution from the Premier League down the pyramid.

The Fan-led Review panel has heard more than 100 hours of oral evidence from fan groups, leagues, the FA, clubs at every level of the pyramid, representatives of players and managers, supporters of the women’s game, academics, German supporter groups and many more.

What does the FSA think?

FSA chief executive Kevin Miles, who sits on the Fan-led Review panel said: “It’s clear from the preliminary report that not only has the evidence been led by fans but also that those fan voices have been heeded.

“FSA members have played a vital role in this process and we’d like to thank them for their continued effort and support.

“Supporter groups at more than 130 clubs have given evidence and many of the recurring themes are reflected in the preliminary recommendations. The commitment to the establishment of a new independent regulator for English football is especially welcome.

“Additional proposals linked to the sustainability of the game, golden shares for fan groups, grassroots investment, mandatory supporter engagement and a strong voice for fans in governance at all levels, are hugely encouraging.”

In the coming months, the Fan-led Review will build upon Crouch’s recommendations and produce detailed plans for reform ahead of the final report. The Review’s final recommendations will be published in October.

“We will continue to play a constructive role in the work of the review in fleshing out the details of the interim proposals,” Kevin said. “Their full implementation could be a huge step to secure a sustainable future for our clubs, the communities around them, and the wider game.”

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