Government tell fearful Premier League 'get on with a deal quickly'

Government tell the fearful Premier League ‘get on with a deal quickly’ as the White Paper for English football’s independent regulator is unveiled, after West Ham owner David Sullivan blasted the ‘terrible’ plans

  • The Government unveiled their ‘White Paper’ for English football on Thursday
  • There are concerns at the Premier League that it could damage their position 
  • MP Stuart Andrew urged the Premier League to ‘get on with a deal quickly’

The Government urged the Premier League to ‘get on with a deal quickly’ after unveiling the White Paper for English football’s independent regulator on Thursday.

Following Tracey Crouch’s fan-led review into football governance, the House of Commons listened to details of how the proposed regulator will look and work. 

Stuart Andrew, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Sport who revealed the White Paper plans on Thursday afternoon, urged the Premier League to come to an agreement with the English Football League regarding financial distribution swiftly.

Sportsmail reported on Wednesday that the Premier League were apprehensive, with major concerns that the forthcoming legislation will impact future overseas investment into the division. 

Andrew revealed: ‘In every meeting I have been in, I have been urging the Premier League and EFL to come to a deal and get the distribution of payments sorted out as quickly as possible.

The Government urged the Premier League and EFL to ‘get on with a deal quickly’ on Thursday

‘But until we have the regulator in place, it’s only at that point the powers will then be available for a deal to be struck. 

‘Please, I urge those involved in those negotiations to get on with it and get on with it quickly.’

Stuart Andrew, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Sport – pictured in Qatar during the World Cup – revealed the White Paper plans to the House on Thursday

Revealing the details of the White Paper, Andrew began in a statement: ‘In this country, football is more than just a sport. 

‘It’s part of our history, our heritage and our national way of life, bringing communities up and down the country together week in week out. 

‘We invented the beautiful game, and the Premier League and EFL are true global success stories, exported and watched in 188 countries across the world, streaming into 880million homes. 

‘Despite this global success, in recent years it has become clear that there are systemic issues at the heart of our national game. Since the Premier League was created in 1992, there have been 64 incidents of clubs collapsing into administration.’

Andrew went on to highlight the ‘devastating’ losses of Bury and Macclesfield, who were both expelled from English football as a result of ‘financial mismanagement’.

He continued: ‘Despite the success of English football, finances are in a perilous state. The combined net debt of clubs in the Premier League and Championship is now around £6billion. 

The Government says the regulator will give fans a greater voices in football’s decision-making

A supporter wearing an England flag emblazoned with Bury’s name after the club’s expulsion

‘Championship clubs spend an unsustainable 125 per cent of their revenue on player wages alone. And some clubs face annual losses greater than their turnover.

‘All too often we hear of flagrant financial misconduct, unsustainable risk taking and poor governance, driving clubs to the brink.

‘And owners aren’t just gambling with fans’ beloved clubs. They are threatening the sustainability of the entire football pyramid.’

Outlining the purpose of the independent regulator, Andrew explained the roles and responsibilities they would have across England’s top five tiers.

Firstly, clubs will have to provide the regulator with ‘sound business models’ and have them approved before being allowed to compete.

The regulator will also strengthen checks before sanctioning the arrival of owners and directors at football clubs, greatly scrutinising their suitability as well as the source of their funds.

Keen to stamp out any attempt to resurrect the European Super League, which the Government feels threatened the sanctity and spirit of pyramid football, the regulator will also have the power to outright block clubs from joining any breakaway competition.

Moreover, the Government claimed that £300m of funding will be injected into grassroots football by 2025.

Tracey Crouch welcomed the White Paper after her fan-led review into football governance

Finally, directors will have to seek regulator approval before making significant changes to the club, with regards to stadium, branding and kit colours in particular.  It is hoped that this will heighten fan voice and prevent major decisions without consultation with supporters. 

Using particular case studies to express his point, Andrew referenced the shock of Wimbledon fans after their club relocated to Milton Keynes, and the fury of Cardiff supporters, who saw their Bluebirds logo and jersey change to a dragon and the colour red after Vincent Tan’s arrival.

One of the core aspects of the regulator is how the vast Premier League wealth is redistributed down the football pyramid.

The EFL want 25 percent of the Premier League’s net revenue to safeguard the future of their clubs. At the moment the top-flight contribute around 17 per cent. 

Importantly, however, the Premier League and EFL are still to agree on a financial deal.

When questioned by Labour MP Jeff Smith about the power the new system will hold over Premier League clubs, Andrew insisted the regulator would have ‘sufficient teeth’ in dealing with player contracts, transfer levies and parachute payments.

Crouch, chair of the fan led review said on Wednesday: ‘This is a big day for football in this country and I am delighted the Government has acted on the key strategic recommendations in my review.

‘The introduction of a new independent regulator of football will strengthen our incredible pyramid, giving investors, fans and communities confidence in the governance of our clubs, enabling them to thrive in the best leagues in the world.

‘Football is nothing without its fans, and the announcement today will ensure they remain at its heart while it continues to grow at home and abroad.’

But West Ham’s principal owner David Sullivan has blasted the independent regulator proposal, accusing the Government of ‘ruining everything’

But West Ham co-owner David Sullivan criticised the regulator plan, labelling it a ‘terrible idea’

He told Sky Sports: ‘A football regulator is a terrible idea. The government are terrible at running everything.

‘Look at the mess this country is in. We pay the highest taxes ever for the worst service from the worst government that I’ve seen in my lifetime.’

‘The regulator will have a huge staff that football will have to pay for. It will be a total waste of money. I bet it grows in size and cost every year.

‘The Premier League is the best run and most successful league in the world. It gives more to the lower leagues, the PFA and grass roots than any other league in the world. It’s a fantastic export.’

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