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Sports minister Nigel Huddleston gives evidence to CMS Select Committee

Sports minister: Government will legislate for independent regulator 

Sports minister Nigel Huddleston today faced questions from MPs on the fan-led review into football governance and the wider role of Russian money in the ownership of football clubs. 

Huddleston appeared before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee first with chair Julian Knight MP asking if the Government would “beef up” Tracey Crouch’s fan-led review recommendations to add “integrity” tests alongside financial tests for club ownership.

The sports minister said: “We will be responding formally to the fan-led review shortly and we recognise there’s a need for movement there [on the Owners and Directors Test] and the secretary of state will respond to that” adding that “a more robust Owners and Directors Test” was needed.

He confirmed that the Government would legislate to introduce an independent regulator into football – and the Football Supporters’ Association are encouraging all fans to lobby their MPs to make sure that happens.

Huddleston continued: “I’m hoping and expecting that we will see considerable changes without the need for legislation but we need legislation to set up a regulator” and in response to questions from Clive Efford MP said “if it [football] doesn’t act we will legislate”.

He said the fan-led review was “pivotally important” and “a recognition of the need for significant changes in football governance in England”. 

“I can’t promise the timescales of legislation but there’s no intent to kick this into the long grass or delay it. It is incredibly complex, this is not easy, we’re going to set up a regulator and that will require primary legislation. The timing of it is something we’re discussing at the moment,” said the sports minister.

FSA view: We need action now

Time is of the essence, only last month the “big six” sabotaged Premier League attempts to introduce a new owners charter, and we want to see a commitment to fan-led review legislation within the upcoming Queen’s Speech. All supporters should lobby their MPs to help make that a reality.

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