The Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Masters, has reassured the division’s 20 clubs that he is not in favour of government regulation for the competition.
Masters spoke at a meeting of the clubs on Friday in response to the fan-led review of the English game, which was chaired by Tracey Crouch, a former sports minister, and published on Thursday of last week.
The primary recommendation was that football needed a strong independent regulator, which was not what the top-flight clubs wanted to hear, and some of them were worried when Masters said in an interview with the BBC last Friday that he supported the principle.
Previously, the league had objected to an independent regulator and Masters’ comments were interpreted in some quarters as a shift in position.
The reality was that Masters was attempting to tread a nuanced line between showing respect for the review and accepting that the league had to be open to some form of regulation in principle but also, as he put it, warning “we need to be careful of unintended consequences”.
Masters said last Friday: “We have to be careful not to damage the Premier League and English football. We agree with the thrust [of the review] but there are some pretty radical proposals there that need to be thought about.”
Masters’ address to the clubs was well received, ironing out any perceived inconsistencies, and their attention is likely to turn towards how to change the dialogue around the notion of a regulator.
It is understood that, if one were enforced, the clubs would favour it being the Football Association – an independent body but not one constrained by government legislation.
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The league’s clubs have feared a regulator since the European Super League debacle – almost as a punishment – and some have gone public with their concerns. Christian Purslow (Aston Villa), Karren Brady (West Ham), Steve Parish (Crystal Palace) and Angus Kinnear (Leeds) have each argued in their own ways that it would be foolish to weaken the very top of the English pyramid; that the game’s strength comes from the competition there.
The clubs are against another of the review’s key recommendations – a transfer tax to raise more funds for those further down – for the same reason but they are broadly behind the rest of it. Other points include greater fan representation and consultation at board level and supporters holding a “golden share” to protect their clubs’ heritage and which competitions they play in.