talkSPORT: Government should step in and ‘stop civil war breaking out in English football’

talkSPORT: Government should step in and ‘stop civil war breaking out in English football’

Article by Josh Fordham for talkSPORT - published 13 October 2020

The UK Government should step in to stop a ‘civil war’ breaking out in English football, talkSPORT has been told.

Damian Collins MP, former chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, has called on Downing Street to act now to save clubs in the English Football League from going bust.

A fierce debate looks set to rage between owners of EFL clubs over the ‘Project Big Picture’ reforms being pushed by Manchester United and Liverpool.

Those proposals would see a much needed £250million immediate cash injection to see clubs through the coronavirus crisis.

In return, the top six clubs in the Premier League would hold far greater power, would reduce the top flight to 18 teams and scrap the EFL Cup altogether.

Mr Collins is now calling on the Government to intervene and help deliver a rescue package for Football League clubs.

He told Jim White on talkSPORT: “I think they [the Government] should help and get involved.

“I don’t think the Government can stand placidly by now and watch this civil war break out in English football as the chairmen of clubs fight and argue about whether and how they will help or how much money is available.

“Even if the Government said ‘we will fund what it takes and we will recover that money over the next few years in a levy of football transfers’, or something like that, just so the clubs struggling now have some certainty of knowing. At the moment they don’t know what’s happening.

“My concern is that maybe some clubs will look at the picture and say ‘I don’t like giving the power to the big six but if it’s the only way I can stop my club going bust I might have to vote for it’.

“I think what the Government should do is get together with the Premier League, FA and EFL and agree the amount of money they will put in that will allow clubs in League One and League Two in particular to survive.

“That’s probably grants made available to those clubs. I think we are talking at least £70m to £80m required.

“That should be easily collectively for those groups to find that money. It think it requires the Government offering to put some money in as well to get the money out of the Premier League in particular.

“I think then there’s a more complicated issue in the Championship. Bigger clubs and bigger financial problems. I think there should be grants and loans agreed to do that.”

Mr Collins also believed that a new financial regulator should be set up to oversee football but admitted it was something that could take time.

He said: “The bigger picture, which I think will require legislation, is to create a new financial regulator for football with certain statutory powers to make sure the clubs follow the financial fair play effectively, and take important action when they don’t.

“Make sure they have the right access to the accounts of the clubs. This is actual one bit in the big picture plan I agree with, they do suggest something similar there, but I think that requires legislation to set that up.

“People say that if you legislate you going to break FIFA’s rules on political interference. Not at all, there’s other countries that do this.

“France have statutory basis for their national governing bodies that effectively act on a form of licence from the government.

“That’s obviously going to take a bit longer but you have to fix the short-term financial crisis.”

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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