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Committee calls for regulatory reforms to English football

5 November 2019

‘Failings at every level of football governance', say MPs

The Administration of Football Clubs inquiry has led to calls for urgent action to prevent other football clubs experiencing the same fate as Bury FC.

Today the DCMS Committee has written to Sports Minister Nigel Adams, executives of the English Football League and the FA setting out recommendations, based on ‘compelling' evidence given to the inquiry:

  • MPs demand that EFL makes a formal apology to Bury FC staff and supporters with reparations made for associated loss of earnings
  • FA, EFL and Premier League should establish a supporters' ombudsman to hear concerns about how clubs are being run
  • Reformed Owners' and Directors' Test would disqualify a buyer with record of corporate insolvency
  • Clubs would be banned from borrowing against fixed assets such as stadiums
  • Formal and enforceable licensing system for professional English football clubs, as recommended in 2011 report on Football Governance
  • Government legislation for independent system of football licensing and regulation if reforms are not implemented

Chair's comment

 Damian Collins MP, said:

“Systematic and structural problems are responsible for the tragic expulsion of Bury FC from the League this year. These failures were avoidable, and it is essential that the authorities urgently overhaul their framework if they wish to avoid the same fate befalling other clubs.

“We heard time and again that supporters felt powerless as they watched their beloved club suffer shocking mismanagement and financial misconduct. The authorities must learn to respect, and act upon, these concerns. If the reforms we recommend are not introduced forthwith, the only alternative is for the Government to step in.”

EFL must share the blame:

MPs found the problems at Bury preceded the tenure of the current owner Steve Dale, and say the EFL must share the blame for having allowed the situation at the club to have deteriorated for so long.

Serious concerns are expressed about the size of an introductory fee charged for a loan to Bury FC. The letter is jointly addressed to Jonathan Taylor QC, who is heading the independent Taylor Review, urging him to investigate further.

Further information

The Inquiry into the Administration of English Football Clubs was launched in September 2019 with an evidence session held on October 21. Evidence was given by The Football Supporters' Association, the English Football League, the Premier League, the Football Association and stakeholders of Bury FC.

 Image: Unsplash