Tracey Crouch has called on the Government to act on the recommendations of the fan-led review she chaired, stressing: “The time for reform is now.”
The review recommendations were published on November 24 last year, with the introduction of an independent regulator underpinned by statutory powers central to those recommendations.
The review recommendations were endorsed by the Government in April, but subsequent changes in Conservative Party leadership have made groups like Fair Game question the Government’s appetite to press ahead.
The Government says it remains committed to setting out its detailed response to the fan-led review and that it will publish a White Paper in due course.
A new report by Crouch, published on Tuesday – The Fan Led Review: One Year On – calls for the recommendations to be urgently implemented.
“In the past 12 months we have seen stark examples of the ongoing problems in the game, such as those at Derby County that threatened its existence,” Crouch said.
“Yet a minority of loud, self-interested voices continue to block meaningful reform, to the detriment of the game.
“But the support for reform from fan groups, many football officials and club owners, has been incredibly encouraging and gives me hope that the Government will utilise cross-party support to deliver the change that football needs. The time for reform is now.”
A fan-led review of football governance was a manifesto pledge from the Conservative Party in the 2019 General Election, and was commissioned ahead of schedule in the wake of the Super League scandal.
Crouch’s recommendation for a regulator and a transfer levy imposed on Premier League clubs was likened to Maoism by Leeds chief executive Angus Kinnear.
Referencing that remark, Crouch wrote in the foreword to the report: “Being accused of being a Maoist by one over-exuberant club CEO was certainly a novel experience for a lifelong Conservative!
“However, some loud self-interested voices within the game have continued to thwart the football authorities’ own attempts at meaningful reform, to the detriment of fans without whom football would be nothing.
“Where there have been positive developments in the last year they offer a tantalising glimpse of what might be achieved when the FLR recommendations are implemented in full.
“Those recommendations were never set out as an à la carte menu. Better regulation and corporate governance will lead to clubs being run more sustainably, which will also allow increased distributions down the pyramid without fear that such money will be wasted.
“As set out in this paper, the issues identified and the need for such reforms are clearer than ever.
“But I am more optimistic than ever and look forward to the upcoming publication of the Government White Paper on football reform and the legislation that will follow it.”
The Premier League was last week given a mandate by its clubs to negotiate a new deal with the English Football League and the Football Association covering issues such as financial distribution.
The league will now discuss the proposals with the EFL and the FA in a bid to seek a game-wide agreement.
The fan-led review had recommended the independent regulator being given backstop powers to enforce a settlement if the leagues could not agree one.
Niall Couper, the chief executive of Fair Game, said: “Tracey’s report was a real milestone for football. It spelt out a new future.
“But since then football has been on a rollercoaster ride. There is no doubt that football needs reform. Fans know it. The clubs know it. And politicians know it.
“Yet, the Government has been ignoring them all. What is needed now is action. The solution is simple: Publish the White Paper and lay the final path to legislation.”