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Football authorities must urgently agree funding deal or face regulator action to safeguard long-term stability of game, MPs say

30 June 2023

The Premier League and EFL must urgently come to an agreement on sharing more revenue with clubs down the football pyramid or the Government should bring forward setting up the planned independent regulator to impose a deal on the football authorities, MPs say today.

The CMS Committee report on football governance warns that if there is no solution soon to the deadlock between the Premier League and EFL on the redistribution of funds, more clubs will be put at risk of collapse in a similar way to Bury FC nearly three years ago. It recommends that the deal should not include an increase in the current level of parachute payments from the Premier League.

The Committee’s report comes after it took evidence on the Government’s football governance White Paper which was published in February. The Committee welcomes the progress the Government has made so far in response to the fan-led review and calls for the Independent Regulator for English Football (IREF) to be set up in shadow form by the end of the year, with legislation to give it statutory powers passed by the end of the Parliament.

The report also makes recommendations aimed at boosting fan engagement and equality, diversity and inclusion standards at football clubs.

Chair comment

Dame Caroline Dinenage MP, Chair of the CMS Committee, said: “Unless the football authorities get their act together soon on agreeing a fairer share of revenue down the pyramid, we risk more clubs collapsing, with the devastating impact that can have on local communities. It’s in the best interests of all involved to get this sorted quickly. If the stalemate continues, the Government should step in to ensure the planned independent regulator is in place with the legal powers to impose a deal to safeguard clubs for the future and ensure the long-term financial stability of the national game.”

Main findings and recommendations

An independent regulator

  • The Committee welcomes the Government's commitment to establish an Independent Regulator for Football (IREF). It should be set up in a shadow form by the end of the year to ensure that it can begin initial engagement and preparatory work before waiting for legislation to be passed. The Government should ensure the legislation needed to give statutory powers to the Independent Regulator are included in the forthcoming King's Speech and ensure that legislation is passed in this present Parliament.

Fan engagement

  • The Committee welcomes the Premier League’s fan engagement standard but notes that the level of fan engagement from Premier League and EFL clubs still varies wildly. IREF should ensure that its licencing conditions regarding fan engagement should be set independently of the current Premier League Fan Engagement Standard. Unless there is immediate and significant change from leagues and clubs, the Committee expect that IREF will be required to set and enforce a substantially higher level of fan engagement for clubs to meet than the leagues have set themselves, in order to ensure all clubs work to meet the needs of fans.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

  • While in shadow form, IREF should look to existing 15 corporate governance codes and work with stakeholders to ensure that substantive EDI measures are included in the new Code for Football Governance.
  • The Committee recommends that the Government should give IREF the authority to mandate EDI Action Plans as part of its threshold licence conditions for clubs. Clubs’ performances against these Action Plans should be assessed regularly by IREF as part of its routine licence reviews.

Further information

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