19/03/2024 48comments  |  Jump to last

Independent regulation of men's elite football in England took a step closer with the publication of the Football Governance Bill and its introduction to Parliament this week.

The Bill aims “to put fans back at the heart of the game” and proposes the formation of an Independent Football Regulator (IFR), a standalone body that would be independent of both the Government and the football authorities, and would have three core objectives as explained in the manifesto: “to improve financial sustainability of clubs, ensure financial resilience across the leagues, and to safeguard the heritage of English football.”

Under the proposals, the IFR would be given powers to fine clubs up to 10% of turnover for non-compliance, strengthen existing testing of potential owners’ and directors’ suitability to run domestic clubs, and possess “backstop powers to impose a ‘new deal’ on financial distributions” on revenue down the football pyramid.

The IFR would also operate a licensing system covering the top five tiers of English football, with the power to demand up-to-the-minute financial information from both clubs and owners, the ability to enforce the sale of shares for non co-operation and require all clubs to meet basic requirements on fan engagement, including consultation of supporters on key off-field decisions.  

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The Bill, which had its first reading in the House of Commons today, is the result of the Fan-Led Review of Football Governance initiated by Tracey Crouch CBE MP following the controversial attempt by six Premier League clubs to join the breakaway European Super League in 2021.

It has been lent greater urgency by the controversy over the points sanctions handed down to Everton and Nottingham Forest in recent months, a number of other cases that have threatened the collapse of more clubs like Bury who were wound up four years ago, and the recent stalling of a new framework for disbursing money from the Premier League to the English Football League.

According to MailOnline, the so-called "Big Six" would be required to pay a larger share of the IFR's estimated £10m-a-year running costs. 


Full details of the Bill Gov.uk

Reader Comments (48)

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Brian Harrison
1 Posted 19/03/2024 at 13:19:55
Today, Parliament is discussing whether to appoint an independent administrator to oversee the governance of football. Despite many governing bodies failing to appoint the right people and therefore a fear that an independent regulator would make matters worse.

So if this bill is accepted, then hopefully the independent regulator will discuss how best to replace these unfair P&S rules which don't address the problem.

This was supposed to help protect clubs from going into administration, and to make sure owners didn't saddle the clubs with massive debts and walk away.

Now if that was the main issue and that's why the Premier League introduced the P&S Rules, well, I have long suggested adopting Gary Neville's plan to make every owner sign a legally binding document that makes them responsible for any increased debt on the club. That stops the possibility of clubs going into administration through unscrupulous owners.

Brent Stephens
2 Posted 19/03/2024 at 13:22:49
The government bill sounds as if it might be going a bit further than originally suggested by the government. Including "Breakaway closed-shop competitions such as the European Super League to be blocked under new legislation".

Brent Stephens
3 Posted 19/03/2024 at 13:24:40
"Under the Football Governance Bill, new owners and directors will face stronger tests to stop clubs falling into the wrong hands, and face the possibility of being removed and struck off from owning football clubs if they are found to be unsuitable."

That's likely to stop 777 Partners??

Tony Abrahams
4 Posted 19/03/2024 at 14:02:16
That's my biggest worry, Brent, whilst they have still got time before they are regulated.
Brent Stephens
5 Posted 19/03/2024 at 14:14:24
Yes, Tony, I agree. By the time the government passes the legislation, a new owner could be in place.

Unless the Premier League stretch it out long enough?

Michael Kenrick
6 Posted 19/03/2024 at 14:21:29
Thanks for posting this. Brent.

Do you know if there's a debate on the Bill planned for today? Or any time soon?

Tony Abrahams
7 Posted 19/03/2024 at 14:22:33
If the rumours are correct, Brent, then most reports are saying that 777 Partners won't be going past this month, with regards continuing to fund Everton.

But the "judgement is imminent" phrase has been giving me a permanent headache for weeks.

Michael Kenrick
8 Posted 19/03/2024 at 14:27:18
Ah! Just as I type that, Madame Deputy Speaker, Dame Winterton, gave the Bill it's (ever so cursory – all of 4 seconds!) First Reading in the House of Commons just now.

The Second Reading will be tomorrow. Is that when they will debate it?

Sez at Parliament.UK that the main business tomorrow (after PMQs) will be the second reading of the Post Office (Horizon System) Offences Bill.

Brent Stephens
9 Posted 19/03/2024 at 14:29:22
Michael, the stages of a bill going through to becomg law:
How Bills are passed into Law

Something like ten stages.

Brent Stephens
10 Posted 19/03/2024 at 14:32:59
Second reading is only the first stage of proper debate. It then goes to committee stage (each clause and any amendments are debated).
Mike Hayes
11 Posted 19/03/2024 at 14:33:39
Won't be happening anytime soon – only bonus is it's gearing toward fans and stopping the reemergence of the Euro Super League.
Brent Stephens
12 Posted 19/03/2024 at 14:38:15
My guess is that parliamentary "ping pong" (the bill going backwards and forwards between House of Commons and House of Lords, depending on amendments) is unlikely.

My guess is this will go through both houses without too much trouble. Just the question of when the Leader of the House schedules this for discussion, if other matters are seen to be more important – such as getting more important stuff passed before an early election?!

Michael Kenrick
13 Posted 19/03/2024 at 14:43:44
Thanks again, Brent. I'm very rusty on this so much appreciated.

Interesting that link says, regarding the Second Reading, "It usually takes place no sooner than two weekends after the first reading."

I'm sure I just heard a bloke in the House say it would be tomorrow?

Ted Roberts
14 Posted 19/03/2024 at 14:47:22
Feels like a breath of fresh air,hope it does what it says on the tin!!!
Brent Stephens
15 Posted 19/03/2024 at 14:48:23

I think you might be right about tomorrow - "usually" is the let-out.

Dave Abrahams
16 Posted 19/03/2024 at 14:50:09
No matter when the Bill is passed, it is giving a nudge to any future commissions hearing charges against clubs at the instigation of the Premier League, who are now being focussed as being inept and making up rules and punishment as they go along.

It could be helpful to us with our second charge in the same season, being heard soon.

Brent Stephens
17 Posted 19/03/2024 at 15:14:36
The Football Governance Bill has been published at:
Link on the right to the Bill ("Get File").

Danny O’Neill
18 Posted 19/03/2024 at 15:18:45
In the short-term, this could be a double-edged sword.

Longer term, this can be good for the game we love.

If I'm reading correctly, clubs will be held accountable and the supporters will have more influence.

We will see.

Tony Abrahams
19 Posted 19/03/2024 at 15:23:47
I'm thinking the complete opposite, Dave, bearing in mind that this has probably been brought forward because certain people were outraged at the punishment given to Everton Football Club by the Premier League.
Charles Ward
20 Posted 19/03/2024 at 15:37:23
So the regulator will be able to only fine clubs up to 10% of turnover – so what's to stop state-sponsored clubs breaking the financial constraints and happily paying the fine?

Obviously there is no Premier League club owned by a State where we have ongoing arms agreements and whose takeover was pushed through by a very dodgy British PM. Is there?

James Newcombe
21 Posted 19/03/2024 at 15:48:27
Until something* is done to make the sport worth competing in for the rest of us (across the divisions), then the game is still dying a slow death.

* By the way, I don't know what!

Frank Crewe
22 Posted 19/03/2024 at 15:56:13
People say the Premier League had it in for Everton. But I don't buy it.

If the government hadn't started talking about a regulator, none of this would have happened. These so-called rules were never designed to be actually used. The PL just thought they could sail on serenely while turning a blind eye to the numerous transgressions various clubs, including Everton, were committing.

Especially Man City, who have been getting away with murder for years. They just thought the Premier League was a money-making juggernaut that was too rich, powerful and well-connected to be challenged by the little clubs.

They hadn't reckoned on an unpopular, pandering government desperate for votes to stay in power. Well, I doubt there is anything the Premier League can do that can fend off the government from appointing a regulator now.

All that can save them is a General Election and hope that a new Labour government decides a regulator is a bad idea and doesn't go ahead with it.

The Premier League have bolloxed this up big time and some Premier League club or other is going to pay the relegation price for it. Let's hope it isn't us.

Ajay Gopal
23 Posted 19/03/2024 at 16:00:07
The cynical me reads this:

"The body will be equipped with robust powers revolving around three core objectives:

To improve financial sustainability of clubs, ensure financial resilience across the leagues, and to safeguard the heritage of English football."


"Ensure the rich get richer, punish the 'smaller' clubs who dare to dream big, preserve the exclusivity of the 'Bg Sky Slimy 6'."

Dave Abrahams
24 Posted 19/03/2024 at 16:17:03
Tony (19),

Fair enough, each to their own, everyone is entitled to their opinion, it is noticeable that even the fans who think we are going to be given another kick in the plums are of the opinion we have been “picked” on and treated unfairly so I'm just saying that I don't think we will get another kick in the plums.

I think if our barrister had said what he said in our defence with a thick aggressive Scouse voice, he might have made a better impression with a Scouse scowl here and there. Never mind… he'll just have practice in case he's needed for another appeal.

Christine, I told you we bleedin' needed you there!!

Peter Hodgson
25 Posted 19/03/2024 at 17:43:01
This, as short as I can make it comment, is written with some knowledge albeit from years ago, of how new legislation is brought in and the snails pace of it all.

First things first; let's not think that the Football Governance Bill, even if it passes all the stages as written initially, is going to happen any time soon. Remember that there is going to be a General Election this year slowing things down, so any final Act won't be implemented for quite some time yet.

Even if it is fast-tracked, my guess, unless things move unusually speedily, will mean implementation won't be until the 2026-27 season at the earliest.

This means that whatever is going on today will continue unabated – including the Premier League making it up as they go along continuing for the foreseeable future. They may be somewhat more prudent and transparent as a result of the Bill, however.

The Bill seems, at first glance, to do much of what fans have been asking for as far as more of a say in how a club is run and administered. It will provide more transparency than at present with clearer rules and regulations from the approval of owners and club officers to stipulating what penalties will apply for transgressions. All non-existent today under the current regime.

What it will also do, which is not so good but inevitable, is provide more work for the legal profession.

As I said earlier, this Bill is a starting point but a starting point that takes us in the right direction which might hopefully prevent our game from attracting owners who have no right to be there and people who administrate the game and clubs making it up as they go along. It certainly won't be perfect from the start but it's a better place than we are in today.

As they say, time will tell, but we have got to start somewhere and change the downward spiral we seem to be in now.

Peter Hodgson
26 Posted 19/03/2024 at 18:16:35

Thanks to Brent for providing the link to the Bill - all 130 pages of it, which I have only scanned, but not read in depth.

Link here also:


Mike Hayes
27 Posted 19/03/2024 at 19:17:12
The Premier League wanted to open a can of worms – instead, they got Pandora's box.

They should have left well alone… so now their power will be monitored if not limited – sly bastards getting their comeuppance at last!

Matt Traynor
28 Posted 20/03/2024 at 00:28:00
Maybe I'm old and cynical but I see nothing of benefit here. A large portion of fans just want to go to the game, and all that the routine entails for them.

The game needs regulation at the global level and that simply is never going to happen.

The Premier League has dominated European football in terms of finance for years and anything that potentially weakens that will be welcomed — by the other European leagues.

Ernie Baywood
29 Posted 20/03/2024 at 01:03:02
Matt, anything that looks to regulate the Premier League will weaken it. Personally, I don't see that as a bad thing.

Remember that the Premier League was essentially a way to keep most of the money generated at the top level to make English clubs more successful in Europe. It worked!

I'd happily see English clubs do worse in Europe in exchange for more distribution across the pyramid, fewer English clubs going to the wall, and fewer English clubs spending beyond their means.

How they do that... I don't know. I don't have a great deal of trust in Government achieving anything worthwhile.

Derek Thomas
30 Posted 20/03/2024 at 02:22:31
I have no confidence in the Premier League, no confidence in Governments (of any stripe) ability to run a piss-up in a brewery, never mind regulate a multi-billion pound juggernaut. At best, they'll end up throwing the baby out with the dirty bathwater.

But, the road to hell, being paved as it is with 'good intentions' — something must seem to be seen to be done.

Ernie Baywood
31 Posted 20/03/2024 at 03:03:32
Yes, Derek.

Something must be done.

This is something.

Therefore this must be done.

Jerome Shields
32 Posted 20/03/2024 at 04:25:51
Badly needed as a start at least. Need an independent transparent framework rather than the Premier League's negotiation type ploy which throws up sanctions that seem to have a moving base and an inequitable application.

Everton's owners do need to be sanctioned for the deplorable way they have been running the club, but not according to the hatchet job that the club is currently being subjected to.

Dave Evans
33 Posted 20/03/2024 at 05:37:22
The 'Big Six', the Premier League bosses and blood-sucking owners hate the idea of an independent regulator.

The lower leagues, amateur game and fan groups love it.

Going forward, that's good enough for me.

Danny O’Neill
34 Posted 20/03/2024 at 06:16:53
Matt & Ernie, you both make good points.

My turn to be cynical. The bit about football needing global governance is valid, but as mentioned, unrealistic. The corrupt Fifa and Uefa organisations sit in their headquarters in the tax haven that is Switzerland.

I agree, nothing will happen quickly, not in time for our current charge, but it's a start, and now the Premier League has Government scrutiny.

Let's just win games. That is all that is within our control right now.

Charles Ward
36 Posted 20/03/2024 at 08:28:41

If there is a fairer distribution of Premier League money, whether or not England do well in Europe, won't that mean Everton will also have a smaller share of the cake?

Ernie Baywood
37 Posted 20/03/2024 at 09:07:18
Yes. That's right though isn't it? The Premier League is supported by an entire pyramid.

I don't know the answers but I'm very confident that greater concentration of wealth isn't the solution. Look around and our league hasn't got better – it just got better relative to other leagues.

Charles Ward
38 Posted 20/03/2024 at 15:04:57

Distributing money more fairly around the pyramid is fine in principle but, unless there is a serious application of the fit and proper test, we could end up with a situation where that money ends up in the pockets of a selection of wide boys including two high ranking Liverpool OGC lads who had ‘interests' in two lower league clubs a decade or so ago.

Christine Foster
39 Posted 20/03/2024 at 15:50:29
4 am and I wake up thinking about Everton, Moshiri, the Premier League… and why I still love my football team. With a passion.

Sadly, my view of the last few years is also true, there is for me, a line drawn between the playing operations, the people who love the sport, love Everton, and those who own and run the club.

The appointment of a regulator will not reduce the potential for self-interest and greed, but allow the fans a small voice where currently there is none.

Everton have been subjected to our last owners using the club as a personal plaything, affronted when fans demand questions, because self-interest is alive and well.

Take West Ham's David Sullivan's view on a regulator: "You have two problems:– what we give and who funds it?" Sullivan said.

"There is a big argument between the bottom 10, who want the top clubs to pay a lot more, and the top clubs want everyone to pay the same.

"Whatever we give won't be enough for them [the EFL]. Tesco don't give the small supermarket chain a subsidy."

Two fingers to football.

David West
40 Posted 20/03/2024 at 23:26:57
Nothing in this about the Premier League having set punishments, clear sanctions tariffs, transparency of decision making or making them get rid of the cartel-type culture.

I'm not really hopeful it will have much effect on the actual running of the Premier League.

Christine Foster
41 Posted 21/03/2024 at 11:29:37
Dave @24,

I think someone should take our learned brief on a pub crawl for the night before the hearing, in the better blue pubs of the city. After that, he will definitely be able to get his points over with a fair degree of belligerence! It may not help the case but it would certainly cut through the crap and tell it the way it is.

If only I was there. Dave, I'm trying my best, been attempting to finish my renovations to my little wooden box called home, hard to do on a pension, but eventually can sell and get on a plane heading north-by-northwest...

But we dropped into recession today with loads of job cuts planned as the National (conservative) coalition pull apart all the things Labour had done... pendulums swing...

If paradise was half as nice as heaven that is BMD, who needs paradise I'd rather be Blue!

Dave Abrahams
42 Posted 21/03/2024 at 11:54:55
Christine (41),

I hope you make it home soon but, whenever it is you'll make it, definitely ready to watch the first game at our new home.

Wherever you are, Christine, people will know you are a top grade Evertonian and you will always stay that way.

I bet the best briefs in the world learned things from the criminals they represented and our learned brief would have been put wise talking to our blue brothers about our case.

Here's to Bramley Moore and watching the Toffees playing Premier League football, good luck and good health, Christine.

Christine Foster
43 Posted 21/03/2024 at 12:07:18
Cheers Dave, I definitely owe you and Tony a few pints at the Bramley Moore when I do get home! Stay well Dave!
Dave Abrahams
44 Posted 21/03/2024 at 12:25:58
Christine (43),

It will be great to see you but when I do, it will also be our first argument: Who's getting the ale in? You'll lose that one, Christine, because, while we are debating that, Tony, will be at the bar doing the honours!!

Mike Gaynes
45 Posted 21/03/2024 at 14:55:52
Christine, never fight the Abrahams for a check. They are ferocious. If you want to buy them a round, you have to pay the pub up front before you ever get there!
David West
46 Posted 21/03/2024 at 17:26:56
Christine 39.

Sullivan's view is quite correct in the ordinary business world.
Tesco are not also only allowed to make £105M losses over a 3-year period !

When it suits them, they are a normal business that should be left like other businesses; when they want to play on the community aspects, they are not a normal business.

This is the issue with the game, the big clubs want to be left to run a capitalist, 'survival of the fittest' game and don't care if smaller town, community clubs go under.

It will end up like the NFL where something like 30 teams are just in it every year! Boring!!!

Christine Foster
47 Posted 21/03/2024 at 20:09:37
David, to me the Premier League owners remind me of Margaret Thatcher's infamous "trickle down theory" in that scenario the clubs at the top make as much as they want and how they want, the best players are purchased by those clubs and therefore the game becomes wealthy, with the top 6 clubs getting 90% of revenue and the rest sharing the 10% as a result of more interest in the game.

Trickle down theory, a lie still propagated today by greedy people. It never worked, the greater good of all clubs is the distribution of the pot because players come from every level.

If foreign player limits were capped, whilst the overall quality of top-flight English football would drop, lower league clubs would benefit more from transfers of players that, used in conjunction with a pot share, protects the English game but reduces the quality of it at the top. Conundrum...

David West
48 Posted 21/03/2024 at 21:52:40

Football can't be run like regular business. A survival of the fittest (richest) will inevitably end with 3, 4, or 5 big players and the rest will be insignificant.

To use the Tesco analogy, there are 4 or 5 major supermarkets who control the market. They have all the power, have crushed all the competition, they have all the buying power. It's not in Tesco's intrest to help a competitor who will take a share of the market.

However, in competitive sport that is dependent on broadcast revenue, the big players need the smaller competitors or there is no market.

So a capitalist, survival of the fittest only serves to destroy the very thing that makes people watch, competition.

I think rather than cap on foreign players, it's a levelling of the spend on wages and transfers that's needed, that's the only true leveller.

When Man Utd get £900M from one sponsor (Adidas) over 10 years, how can we compete?

Scott Robinson
49 Posted 22/03/2024 at 07:20:24
Hopefully this will mean the end of points deductions which are devastating both financially upon the club affected and also psychologically amongst the club's supporters.

Safeguarding the heritage of English football means recognising that first and foremost, football is about the club and its supporters. It permeates through every aspect of people's lives.

Points deductions are cruel and wholly inappropriate, especially as they are judgmental (as we saw with Everton's successful appeal) and the nature of the breaches may be technical.

A fine, based on proportion of turnover is appropriate, which is progressive and will mean the biggest clubs who breach limits will also pay their lion's share.

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