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Former sports minister to propose legislation that creates independent football regulator

January 26, 2021

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Former sports minister to propose legislation that creates independent football regulator

Former sports minister Helen Grant will propose legislation which if passed will create football’s first independent regulator as the national game is facing a “crisis” of governance.

Grant spent three years as part of David Cameron’s Government and has received cross party support for her proposal. A group of former players and administrative figures including former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville, former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King, former FA Chairman David Bernstein and Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham have proposed a “Manifesto for change” to reform footballs governance. The main recommendation is that an independent regulator is formed to govern the sport.

Grant said “The governance of English football is broken and our national game is in crisis. Huge financial disparities, outdated governance and vested interests have created a spiral of unsustainability with some clubs already having gone out of business and the threat of more to follow. These issues are not new, but they have been laid bare by the Coronavirus pandemic. Football has again and again proved that it is unable to reform itself and so, if we are to protect and preserve the fabulous heritage of football in our country, the game’s governance needs emergency surgery.”

Bernstein previously said that the past year had been a “shambles” with the FA responding by saying that it would be open discussing the topic of governance with Government ministers. Bernstein wrote a letter to Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden in which he said “The governance of our national sport remains a shambles. You and the current Government have seen this for yourself in 2020. English football’s failure to speak with one voice over the past months of the Covid-19 crisis have only highlighted a dysfunctional and damaging structure. There is no overall leadership and therefore vested interests continue to prevail. The financial disparity between rich and poor has frankly become obscene.”

The Government has said it is committed to a review of football governance but did not define a timeline for the review to be undertaken.

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