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Self-regulation has failed: MPs debate football governance petitions

Last night MPs debated two petitions to Parliament calling for the introduction of an independent football regulator and the “50+1” rule into the UK game.

Jonathan Gullis MP, who introduced the discussion last night in Westminster Hall, said that independent regulation was needed to address the deep-seated issues in the English football pyramid.

“Without an independent regulator, the glaring issues in English football will not be resolved,” Gullis told fellow MPs.

“There is no overall leadership, so vested interests continue to prevail.

“The financial disparity between rich and poor has become obscene, frankly. The game is devoid of agreed priorities.”

Earlier this month, 142,000 people signed the petition launched by Gary Neville and a coalition of pundits and former-players, calling for the introduction of an independent regulator in English football.

Similarly, 106,000 people signed a petition calling for the introduction of the “50+1” model seen in other European countries such as Germany and Sweden.

Westminster Hall debate – watch it in full

Vice-chair of the APPG for Football Supporters, Damian Collins MP, said: “Many financial failures could have been resolved before they happened if there had been proper independent scrutiny of the finances of the clubs.

“Time and again, we have seen that no such effective operation exists and that the football leagues simply do not have the resources to enforce that.”

The Government’s Fan-led Review of football governance is currently underway and is now gathering evidence from supporter groups up and down the pyramid.

Rachel Hopkins MP, also a vice-chair of the APPG for football supporters, said: “Measures must be put in place to protect and extend fans’ influence in their clubs.

“The fan-led review needs to bring about lasting change through the introduction of legislation to create a thoroughly independent regulator.”

An interim report from the Fan-led Review’s chair Tracey Crouch MP will be made available in July 2021, with the final report published in October 2021.

Responding to the debate on behalf of the Government, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said football fans wanted “changes to be made” and thanked supporters for backing both petitions in large numbers.

“Fans have a crucial part to play in the reform of our national game,” he said. “They bear the brunt and fallout of bad ownership decisions.

“Our independent review has already started its work at pace and is hearing from fans, football authorities and experts from the worlds of finance, governance and regulation to build the framework for the future of football in England.”

Huddleston also confirmed that a survey will be published shortly to allow all supporters across the country to submit their views to the Fan-led Review.

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