London (AFP) – Ministers on Thursday backed the creation of an independent regulator for English football after it was recommended by a fan-led review of governance but one Premier League chief warned of the dangers of too much meddling.
The wide-ranging exercise, chaired by former sports minister Tracey Crouch, has called for changes to ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the men’s professional game.
Among the other recommendations are a “golden share” veto power for fan groups on key issues such as clubs attempting to enter breakaway competitions and more financial support from the Premier League for lower-league clubs through a solidarity transfer levy.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries, whose brief includes sport, said football in England was at a “turning point”, and promised a full response early next year.
“The primary recommendation of the review is clear, and one the government chooses to endorse in principle today: that football requires a strong, independent regulator to secure the future of our national game,” she said in a statement.
“The government will now work at pace to determine the most effective way to deliver an independent regulator, and any powers that might be needed.”
Sports minister Nigel Huddleston was questioned by lawmakers on other aspects of the Crouch review but said he could not commit “100 percent” to all the proposals.
The government promised a fan-led review as part of its 2019 election manifesto.
That pledge followed the collapse of lower-league club Bury, and the decision to bring it forward was influenced by ill-fated attempts to set up a European Super League earlier this year.
But Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow warned of the risk of “killing the golden goose”.
He said the Premier League would find it tough to do much more beyond its current financial commitments to supporting lower-league clubs, which have included substantial funding to cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Premier League has really always been the source of funding for the rest of football and the danger here is killing the golden goose, if we over-regulate a highly successful financial and commercial operation,” he told the BBC.
“I think we have to be very careful as we contemplate reform that it does not ultimately damage the game. We already have a hugely successful English football Premier League — the most successful in the world.”