On Sunday 18th April 2021 many of Europe’s biggest clubs announced plans to form a breakaway European Super League – such was the backlash the idea fell apart within 72 hours and the reverberations could change the power structures in domestic football.
Supporters made their disgust for the idea known immediately, and within 48 hours the FSA had met with sports minister Nigel Huddleston and prime minister Boris Johnson who promised to drop a “legislative bomb” to halt the plans.
At the previous election the Government had included in its manifesto a commitment to a Fan-led Review of Football Governance and that was to be the vehicle for change. Politicians and civil servants involved the FSA from the start as we created a structure which saw a panel of experts, including FSA chief executive Kevin Miles, give all FSA-affiliated and associated fan groups an opportunity to feed into the review. Around 130 supporters’ organisations did just that.
Chair Tracey Crouch MP was then tasked with digesting those discussions and outlined her main recommendations in November 2021. The Government must now legislate to implement her recommendations in full and the FSA will do everything in our powers to make that happen.
- FULL FLR REPORT: All recommendations from the Fan-led Review of Football Governance (FLR) here.
- FSA SUBMISSION: You can download the FSA’s evidence submission to the FLR here.
FLR – key recommendations
- The Government should create a new independent regulator for English football (IREF) established by an Act of Parliament based upon specialist business regulation adapted to the football industry. IREF should operate a licensing system for professional men’s football.
- To ensure financial sustainability of the professional game, IREF should oversee financial regulation in football which should be based upon prudential regulation in other industries recognising that football is obviously sport but also now big business.
- New owners’ and directors’ tests for clubs should be established by IREF replacing the three existing tests to ensure that only good custodians and qualified directors can run these vitally important community and cultural assets.
- There should be a new corporate governance code to support a long-term sustainable future of the game. This should be mandatory for all professional clubs with common requirements tailored to different leagues.
- Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) plans should be mandatory for all clubs with EDI action plans regularly assessed by IREF.
- As every club’s most important stakeholder, supporters should be properly consulted by their clubs in taking key decisions by means of a shadow board. Effective supporter engagement should be a licence condition and overseen by IREF.
- There should be additional protection for key items of club heritage through a “golden share” requiring supporter consent and overseen by IREF.
- There is a strong case for additional contributions from the Premier League to further support the future of the football pyramid including a new solidarity transfer levy paid by top-flight on buying players from overseas or from other Premier League clubs.
- Women’s football should be treated with parity and given its own dedicated review to guarantee its future recognising the significant steps forward taken in recent years but also the unique challenges facing the game.
- The welfare of players exiting the game needs to be better protected – particularly at a young age – and all stakeholders should work together on improving this including the provision of proactive mental health care and support.