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MPs call on sports minister to start “fan-led review”

MPs yesterday called for the Government to fire up its “fan-led review” of football governance in a Parliamentary debate attended by sports minister Nigel Huddleston.

The Westminster Hall debate was tabled by Clive Efford MP, a Millwall fan and member of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Football Supporters to which the Football Supporters’ Association is secretariat.

The sports minister promised the Government would not kick the review into the long-grass but announced no firm timetable or terms of reference – following Project Big Picture supporters firmly believe it should be wide-ranging and encompass football’s power structure.

You can watch the Westminster Hall debate here (Parliamentlive.tv is currently unavailable to embed)

Did your MP speak? Highlights:

  • 14:31 – Clive Efford MP warns that COVID-19 has shone a light on the game’s shortcomings, and asks why the Premier League haven’t involved fans and other stakeholders in their own strategic review?
  • 14:40 – Bury North MP James Daly says the club were “abandoned to the wolves by the football authorities”
  • 14.46 – Zara Sultana MP for Coventry South raises Coventry City case whereby the club has repeatedly been forced to move from the Ricoh Arena to other towns – an “absurd and ridiculous” situation for fans. She calls for far-reaching reforms including increased measures to empower supporters trusts.
  • 14.50.30 – Damian Collins MP says clubs are community assets and a governance review is needed. Also points out the Government has “skin in the game” as EFL clubs have tax liabilities to the Treasury of approximately £100m.
  • 14.59.55 – Justin Madders MP says money leaks out of the game to owners, such as the £1bn dividend paid to themselves by the Glazers at Manchester United. More investment is needed in grassroots football as facilities are often second rate compared to other top football nations.
  • 15.08 – James Daly MP says this is a “raw” issue in Bury and says clubs shouldn’t be treated like normal businesses. Who should we govern on behalf of? The first duty of the regulator has to be to the fans.
  • 14.15.45 – Christian Wakeford MP (Bury South) – “The review of football does need to be fan driven and involve supporters’ trusts.”
  • 15.21 – Alison McGovern MP (Labour shadow sport minister) – talks about the devastation for Bury fans, says there’s a clear case for reform, asks when the Government will deliver its “fan-led review”?
  • 15.32 – Sports minister Nigel Huddleston says the review has already started “informally”, the Government will announce a formal review in due course, but it has no intention to kick the issue into the long grass. He says it’s crucial that any proposals have the support of fans and notes the FSA’s opposition to Project Big Picture.
  • 15.51 – Clive Efford MP closes the debate, reiterates the need for change, and welcomes the Government’s commitment to a fan-led review.

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