Fans can fix football
UPDATE 17th Apr22: a response from DCMS – a commitment of sorts but not yet wholehearted support for implementing the fan-led review in full:
Nigel Huddleston MP
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport, Tourism, Heritage and Civil Society
5 April 2022
Matt Western MP
Your Ref: MW25619 Our Ref:
Thank you for your correspondence of 16 March to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Nadine Dorries MP, on behalf of your constituent, Mr Nick Rogers, Chairman of the Brakes Trust, regarding support for the recommendations of the Fan Led Review of Football Governance. I am responding as the Minister for Sport, Tourism, Heritage and Civil Society.
The Fan Led Review of Football Governance has published its final findings and recommendations which can be found here. The final report is a thorough and detailed examination of the challenges faced by English football. It is a demonstration of the financial problems being caused by incentives within the game and reckless decision making by some clubs and owners, both of which are unsustainable and threaten the future of the game. It is clear that current oversight of the game is not up to the challenge of solving the structural challenges and action must be taken.
To address this systemic challenge, the fan-led review has presented ten strategic recommendations, which are accompanied in the report by 47 detailed sub recommendations. These strategic recommendations are:
• To ensure the long-term sustainability of football, the government should create a new Independent Regulator for English football.
• To ensure financial sustainability of the professional game, the Independent Regulator should oversee financial regulation in football.
• New owners’ and directors’ tests for clubs should be established by the Independent Regulator replacing the three existing tests and ensuring that only good custodians and qualified directors can run these vital assets.
• Football needs a new approach to corporate governance to support a long-term sustainable future of the game.
• Football needs to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in clubs with committed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plans regularly assessed by the Independent Regulator.
• As a uniquely important stakeholder, supporters should be properly consulted by their clubs in taking key decisions by means of a Shadow Board.
• Football clubs are a vital part of their local communities. In recognition of this there should be additional protection for key items of club heritage.
• Fair distributions are vital to the long term health of football. The Premier League should guarantee its support to the pyramid and make additional, proportionate contributions to further support football.
• Women’s football should be treated with parity and given its own dedicated review. • As an urgent matter, the welfare of players exiting the game needs to be better protected – particularly at a young age.
The government has endorsed the principle of the report’s primary recommendation – that football requires a strong, independent regulator to secure the future of our national game. We are working at pace to determine the most effective way to deliver an independent regulator, and any powers that might be needed. The government welcomes the work of the review and is now considering the detailed recommendations ahead of providing a full government response. The Secretary of State committed to Parliament on 3 March to bring forward our response as soon as possible. We will issue a formal response in the coming weeks.
On Mr Roger’s concerns regarding the current conflict in Ukraine, Russia’s unprovoked and unjustifiable war of choice, enabled by the Belarusian government, is abhorrent and a flagrant breach of its international obligations. Respect for human rights and peaceful relations between nations form the foundation of international sport. As the Secretary of State outlined in her 3 March Oral statement, the UK government will continue to ostracise Putin on the global sporting stage.
Thank you again for your letter.
Nigel Huddleston MP
Minister for Sport, Tourism, Heritage and Civil Society
The Brakes Trust contacted our local MP, Matt Western, as part of the Football Supporters Association’s campaign to see the Fan-Led Review’s recommendations made law. Matt has replied:
I have written [to DCMS] asking for a firm commitment that legislation will be included in the Queen’s Speech, ‘I have long supported taking action to fix football … we urgently need the changes recommended in the fan-led review.
See our email request and Matt’s reply below in full.
The Football Fan Led Review – Leamington FC and #StandWithUkraine
Nick Rogers – Brakes Trust
Thu, 10 Mar, 15:36
I am a constituent of the Warwick constituency and also chairman of Brakes Trust, the independent democratic supporters’ trust organisation for our local football club, Leamington FC, who, as you know, are competing in the National League North just below the Football League.
We continue to have a reasonable relationship with the club but that doesn’t stop us from our continued aims as outlined at brakestrust.com/about – and we want the same aims to be achievable for supporters of all football clubs both locally and nationally – of which there will be many supporters in our constituency.
To this end it is essential that the Government be held to it’s Fan-led Review manifesto commitment and that it should be made to deliver upon the recommendations of the report in full without any ‘cherry picking’.
It is important to note that football has had many opportunities to self-regulate and has failed to take them again and again, the time for talking and prevarication is long gone – enforced change by legislation is now the only way to get anything actually done.
To this end I ask you to write to Nadine Dorries, the secretary of state for the DCMS, and ask the minister for a firm commitment that legislation supporting the full implementation of the Fan-led Review will be in the upcoming Queen’s Speech.
I thank you in the anticipation that you will give this your active support and I encourage you to read Tracey Crouch’s Fan-led Review of Football Governance which can be downloaded from the DCMS website.
I cannot write without mentioning the urgency of supporting the innocent civilians at need in the current conflict in Ukraine. Brakes Trust are supporting the excellent work done by Leamington’s Polish Centre with a bucket collection at Leamington’s home match v Hereford this Saturday – your support would be most welcome as we all #StandWithUkraine.
Nick Rogers (Chairman – Brakes Trust – Reg. No: IP30924).
Re: The Football Fan Led Review – Leamington FC and #StandWithUkraine (Case Ref: MW25619)
Matt Western MP
to Nick Rogers
Thank you for contacting me about the Fan-led Review of Football Governance.
I have now written to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, forwarding your correspondence and asking for a firm commitment that legislation will be in the upcoming Queen’s Speech. I’ll keep you informed with her reply.
I have long supported taking action to fix football.
Football governance in England is broken and this is unfortunately not a new thing. We urgently need the changes recommended in the fan-led review.
In particular, I very much support the recommendation of an independent regulator to fix the problems in football. I am delighted that this is the report’s key recommendation, although I would like to see a bit more fan involvement in this regulator. Just as the Football Association is recommended to have observer status on the board of the independent regulator, I believe the Football Supporters’ Association should too.
The Government now says it is moving at pace to make sure the fan-led review is implemented, and that is has accepted its key principles. It states that legislation will be required. I believe the Government must bring forward this legislation soon in 2022 and commit to accepting all of the recommendations in what was a very thorough review.
Well done to Brakes Trust for fundraising for Ukraine. I visited the Polish Centre recently and it’s amazing to see our community coming together to support the victims of this unnecessary war.
Finally, just to say that there is a huge amount that I am doing to try and best represent you and all constituents on so many issues. Please sign up here www.mattwestern.org/subscribe to receive a copy of my e-newsletter.
Matt Western MP
Warwick & Leamington