A new independent football regulator will assess prospective owners’ fitness, guarantee clubs are managed sustainably, handle any disputes with how money flows from the Premier League down the pyramid, and prevent clubs from joining breakaway leagues. The government will release its White Paper on football governance on Thursday, and it has now announced that it will implement a suggestion from the 2021 fan-led football review to establish a regulator.
With the launch of the European Super League in April 2021, which prompted the government to propose a fan-led review, the regulator will also have the authority to bar English teams from entering new competitions that do not match specified criteria, in conjunction with the FA and fans. These criteria could include efforts to prevent clubs from competing in closed-shop breakaway leagues that hurt domestic football, such as the European Super League.
Government White Paper proposes owners’ tests and breakaway leagues
Another major function of the group would be to monitor a licensing system to guarantee clubs are operated sustainably, following the recent collapses of Bury and Macclesfield. The regulator will also conduct an owners’ and directors’ exam, with an emphasis on new owners’ fitness and propriety, as well as expanded due diligence.
The regulator will also ensure that supporters have a bigger role in how their teams are operated, allowing them a say if owners try to change components of a club’s tradition, such as a team name, badge, or home shirt colours. Teams would also be required to get regulatory consent for any stadium sale or relocation.
If the Premier League, the EFL, and the Football Association are unable to strike a new agreement on how top-flight revenues support the game at lower levels, the regulator will be allowed to step in and impose arbitration.
The bodies are now negotiating. Rick Parry, the EFL’s chairman, is seeking 25% of all pooled broadcast revenues in a new agreement, as well as two-to-one merit-based payments in the Premier League and Championship and the elimination of parachute payments, in order to reduce what he sees as the “cliff edge” between the first and second tiers.
Parry has previously advocated for the regulator to be given backup powers and had stated earlier this week that he would be “extremely negative” if the government did not address it in the White Paper. The government is sure that the regulator’s powers will be adjusted in such a way that it will not undermine the Premier League’s competitiveness and strength, which in financial terms is far ahead of even the other ‘Big Four’ leagues in Europe.
At this point, it is unclear whether the owners’ and directors’ test will include a human rights component, which Amnesty International has called on the Premier League to do in the aftermath of the Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle and has reiterated again amid a Qatari offer for Manchester United.