Football Governance Bill: Rishi Sunak vows to tackle ‘unscrupulous’ club owners

The government will establish an independent football regulator to tackle “unscrupulous” club owners, when the Football Governance Bill is introduced to parliament on Tuesday.

If passed, the legislation will grant powers to an independent body to oversee clubs in England’s top five tiers.

The bill will define the powers of the regulator according to three objectives, namely: “To improve financial sustainability of clubs, ensure financial resilience across the leagues, and to safeguard the heritage of English football”.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak said it is “a historic moment for football fans”.

“It will make sure their voices are front and centre,” he added. “Football has long been one of our greatest sources of national pride.

“But for too long some clubs have been abused by unscrupulous owners who get away with financial mismanagement, which at worst can lead to complete collapse – as we saw in the upsetting cases of Bury and Macclesfield Town.”

In a post on X/Twitter, Sunak added: “We’ve seen what can happen when clubs are abused by unscrupulous owners.   

“That’s why today we are introducing a new law in parliament to sort football governance once and for all with a new Independent Football Regulator”.

The government announced plans to appoint a regulator in February 2023, following a fan-led review in 2022.

The fan-led review, helmed by Tracey Crouch MP, said a regulator was necessary for the long-term financial stability of the men’s professional game after issues including financial mismanagement and plans for a breakaway European Super League.

The review was launched after the attempt by clubs to form the European Super League.

Crouch, a Conservative MP and former sports minister, said: “Football fans can begin to breathe a sigh of relief in the knowledge that the next steps towards protecting the long-term sustainability of the pyramid have now been taken.”

Rick Parry, chair of the English Football League (EFL), said: “If delivered on the right terms, this landmark legislation can help fix the game’s broken financial model by offering the independent input ultimately needed to help ensure that all clubs can survive and thrive in a fair and competitive environment.”

The Premier League has responded by saying they “remain concerned” about the legislation, which they claim could unintentionally “weaken the competitiveness and appeal of English football”.

A Premier League statement read: “With our clubs, we have advocated for a proportionate regime that enables us to build on our position as the most widely watched league in the world.

“Mindful that the future growth of the Premier League is not guaranteed, we remain concerned about any unintended consequences of legislation that could weaken the competitiveness and appeal of English football.

“The Premier League remains fully committed to delivering its world-leading funding to the wider game, through £1.6bn distributed to all levels of football across the current three-year term.” is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.