Publication of fan-led review of football governance receives mixed responses

The final report and recommendations of the independent Fan-Led Review of Football Governance has been published today.

The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said:  “For too long professional football in this country has operated with a disregard for fans and for the most basic good business practice.

“We welcome the review’s central recommendation for an independent football regulator with accountability to the DCMS Committee to assess performance and value for money.

“A Shadow Board of fans with a Golden Share in clubs will put paid to ridiculous hair-brained schemes such as the European Super League. New owners’ and directors’ tests and a transfer levy to benefit grassroots clubs are all moves in the right direction.

“What we need now is urgent government action with a Bill before the House. The Secretary of State must look to introduce a football regulator in the next Queen’s speech. We can have no further prevarication, nor see these recommendations shunted into a future election manifesto. Today must mark the start of building a stronger, fairer and more sustainable national game.”

Commenting on the final report, Professor Len Shackleton, economist at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“Once again our government is expanding the role of the state to encompass what should be private activity.

“Few would claim that English football has been well-led in recent years, but that’s the concern of clubs, players and fans. It has insufficient wider impact on the economy and society to justify state intervention.

“Although some of the proposals in Tracey Crouch MP’s report make sense, they are for the football authorities – with more than 150 years of experience – to decide on. Once the principle of government interference is accepted, further interventions to pursue government objectives will follow as surely as night follows day. Yet another voluntary activity will become an arm of the state.

“Giving in to the voice of the noisiest fans, giving them the right of veto over owners of private property and imposing an arbitrarily redistributive tax have a short-term appeal but are profoundly illiberal policies.

“Installing yet another regulator is now a standard recommendation for any perceived societal ill. In most cases it is a recipe for expensive mismanagement in response to a febrile public mood, as we are currently seeing in energy markets.

“If these recommendations are carried out they will weaken English clubs in relation to their continental rivals and probably revive interest in a European Super-League which would take our top clubs out of the reach of the proposed regulator.

“A government which claims to believe in private enterprise and freedom under the law should reject this populist plan.”