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Queen’s Speech commits to new independent regulator of English football

The Government took another step towards fixing football governance by committing to create a new independent regulator for English football in today’s Queen’s Speech.

The Queen’s Speech marks the opening of the parliamentary year and the Government uses it to highlight its legislative agenda. For the first time since 1963 the Queen was unable to attend the state opening of Parliament with Prince Charles.

Last year’s Fan-led Review of Football Governance started the ball rolling with a series of recommendations which received a warm welcome from supporters. 

Since then the FSA encouraged affiliated / associated supporters’ groups and individual fans to lobby the Government and MPs to deliver legislation as soon as possible – and that work has had a real impact.

Initially the Government announced that a white paper was expected in the summer – giving politicians the opportunity to draft more detailed policy ideas – but that did mean legislation could have been delayed until 2024. But the FSA urged the Government to “move fast and legislate”.

“Proposals will be published to establish an independent regulator of English football” – Prince Charles

Today’s announcement adds urgency and increases the likelihood of an independent regulator being set up in the more immediate future.

“We welcome the commitment to a new independent regulator of English football – the Fan-led Review kick-started this but it’s not over-the-line yet,” said Malcolm Clarke, chair of the Football Supporters’ Association.

“The regulator has to ensure that a club’s long-term financial sustainability is at the heart of all decision making while legislation can also protect club heritage.

“Supporters have a huge role to play in helping shape the regulator and those powers – this has the potential to be a huge step forward for our game.”

Further reading 

Government response to the Fan-led Review of Football Governance 

Fan-led Review recommendation Government response
(A) To ensure the long-term sustainability of football, the government should create a new independent regulator for English football (IREF). Accept the recommendation to introduce an independent regulator.
(B) To ensure financial sustainability of the professional game, IREF should oversee financial regulation in football. Accept, with further detail on the precise model to follow in the White Paper.
(C) New owners’ and directors’ tests for clubs should be established by IREF replacing the three existing tests and ensuring that only good custodians and qualified directors can run these vital assets. Accept, with further detail to follow on a strengthened Owners’ and Directors’ Test.
(D) Football needs a new approach to corporate governance to support a long-term sustainable future of the game. Accept.
(E) Football needs to improve equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in clubs with committed EDI action plans regularly assessed by IREF. Accept the need for action, and support clubs’ commitment to improving equality, diversity and inclusion focusing on improving outcomes while remaining flexible on plans for action.
(F) As a uniquely important stakeholder, supporters should be properly consulted by their clubs in taking key decisions by means of a shadow board. Support, with further consideration of the mechanism.
(G) Football clubs are a vital part of their local communities, in recognition of this there should be additional protection for key items of club heritage. Support, with further detail on options to follow.
(H) Fair distributions are vital to the long term health of football. The Premier League should guarantee its support to the pyramid and make additional, proportionate contributions to further support football. Support, with an expectation of further action from the football authorities ahead of the White Paper.
(I) Women’s football should be treated with parity and given its own dedicated review. Accept.
(J) As an urgent matter, the welfare of players exiting the game needs to be better protected — particularly at a young age. Support as a matter for the football authorities.

 

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