Game is in the grip of civil war and it needs outside help

Game is in the grip of civil war and it needs outside help

Article published in The Telegraph on 14 October 2020

Football's current crisis has exposed something that we have known for a long time but failed to resolve - the sport is not run by the Football Association but the chairmen of the professional clubs, each acting in the commercial interests of their own team. And they do not all get along.

The "Big Six" in the Premier League do not agree with the other 14 clubs about the formula for sharing commercial revenue. The Premier League and English Football League do not agree on financial support due because of Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the Government and the FA look on as passive observers while a football civil war breaks out.

This all demonstrates that we need to establish an official regulator for football in England, with statutory powers to enforce rules regarding the management of the football pyramid and the financial sustainability of clubs.

Other countries, such as the current world champions France, have established different legal frame works to support the good governance of sport. It is time for our Government to intervene to resolve this dispute by proposing legislation to create this new regulatory body.

The Government could also help with a bail-out for clubs, rather than see the sport mortgage its future to the Big Six in the Premier League, in the absence of any other financial support being available.

We already have an independent body to support investment in grass-roots football - the Football Foundation. It could be given extra resources to provide loans and grants to clubs in distress. These funds would ideally come from a joint financial package provided by the Premier League, EFL and FA.

All clubs receiving financial support should be open to auditing to ensure they are using the funds for the intended purpose and are working within the financial rules of their league.

However, failing that, the Government could still look to provide funds for loans and grants for clubs, as they have for other sports and cultural activities.

Copyright 2019 Damian Collins. All rights reserved

Promoted by Russell Tillson for and on behalf of Damian Collins, both of Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Association both at 4 West Cliff Gardens, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1SP

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