Football’s independent regulator plans paused because of general election

<span>Lucy Frazer, the secretary of state for culture, media, and sport, at Leyton Orient’s stadium in March, when the football governance bill was published.</span><span>Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA</span>
Lucy Frazer, the secretary of state for culture, media, and sport, at Leyton Orient’s stadium in March, when the football governance bill was published.Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA

Plans for an independent regulator for English football will not proceed further through parliament, it is to be announced, with the football governance bill paused as a result of the general election.

The leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt, is to confirm on Thursday the bills that will be expedited into law before parliament dissolves next week and the FGB is not expected to be on the list.

Despite making swift progress through the house, and with estimates that the bill could have completed its passage in a matter of weeks, there remain too many stages in the process for it to be incorporated in the wash-up process, government sources have suggested.

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The wash-up is the accelerated process by which, in agreement with the opposition, the government speeds through remaining legislation before the end of a parliament’s term.

The football governance bill has the support of MPs from all parties and to this point in the parliamentary process there has been broad consensus on its contents. The Labour Party, who launched their election campaign at Gillingham’s Priestfield stadium on Thursday, have previously said that if elected they would introduce a regulator if this government had not.

There remains uncertainty, however, over whether an incoming government would pick up the bill as is or seek to redraft it. This could lead to another extended period of lobbying by football stakeholders, and further delay the introduction of a regulator.

The Premier League and EFL remain at loggerheads over the regulator’s proposed backstop powers to enforce financial redistribution from the top flight down the pyramid. The campaign group Fair Game, meanwhile, had submitted amendments to the bill calling for more equitable financial distribution to be part of the regulator’s remit.These details are likely to be issues passed to the next government to resolve.

Tracey Crouch, the author of the fan-led review that suggested the creation of a regulator, confirmed the bill would be halted but said she remained “100% convinced” a regulator would arrive.

“Unfortunately the football governance bill will progress no further and although there is a ready-made bill for the next government, I won’t be here to see it pass,” said Crouch, who is standing down as MP for Chatham and Aylesford.

She said in a message to the Premier League and EFL: “For the sake of football, sit back down and start negotiating a deal. The impasse is infuriating. I know it is complex. But please, agree a deal.”

The EFL chair, Rick Parry, said his organisation was “committed to working with the new government to ensure no further momentum is lost”.