West Ham chief David Sullivan calls plans for greater football regulation a 'total waste of money'
An independent regulator will licence clubs in a bid to ensure they are run more sustainably, introduce robust owners' and directors' tests while also giving fans veto powers to prevent owners making changes to a club's heritage, such as the badge or kit. It will also have powers to block clubs joining breakaway leagues, appearing to prevent a repeat of any attempt by clubs to form a Super League like the one which proved so unpopular with supporters in 2021. A Government White Paper will be published on Thursday setting out the full detail of its proposals on football governance, based on the recommendations of the fan-led review which the Government commissioned earlier than originally planned in the immediate aftermath of the Super League scandal. The news was "warmly" welcomed by the Football Supporters' Association, but Hammers owner Sullivan criticised the plans. He told Sky Sports News: "It's a terrible idea. The regulator will have a huge staff that football will have to pay for. It will be a total waste of money." But Kevin Miles, the chief executive of the FSA who was part of the fan-led review panel, said: "The FSA warmly welcomes the historic commitment from the Government to introduce an independent regulator of English football. "The football governance white paper clearly addresses our key concerns around ownership, rogue competitions and sustainability and of course we support any proposals that offer fans a greater voice in the running of their clubs." The football authorities will study the detail of the White Paper before issuing comment. A Premier League statement said: "We appreciate the Government's commitment to protect the Premier League's continued success. It is vital that regulation does not damage the game fans love to watch in the deepest professional pyramid in the world, or its ability to attract investment and grow interest in our game. "We will now work constructively with stakeholders to ensure that the proposed Government regulator does not lead to any unintended consequences that could affect the Premier League's position as the most-watched football league in the world, reduce its competitiveness or put the unrivalled levels of funding we provide at risk." EFL chairman Rick Parry believes a regulator can work effectively alongside his organisation in helping to mend what he accepts has become a "broken" system, and welcomes the regulator having backstop powers if an agreement on solidarity funding from the Premier League to the EFL cannot be agreed. A statement from the EFL read: "A landmark moment for the future of our game, we now await to review the White Paper in its entirety and will consider our position in full. "The Fan Led Review White Paper represents a once in a generation opportunity that must be seized to address the systemic issues that football has been unable to sort itself over the last 30 years." FA CEO Mark Bullingham commented: "We welcome the publication of the White Paper today, and its commitment to improving the financial sustainability and governance of professional clubs. "We will submit a full response to the proposals in the White Paper in the coming weeks. Our response will highlight a critical point made repeatedly by the fan-led review, which recommended that the professional game increases funding of the grassroots game. "The players, referees, coaches and volunteers in grassroots football are the foundations of the English game, and it is important that an independent regulator recognises this and supports the long-term health of the whole game." It looks unlikely that a fan-led review proposal to introduce a levy of up to 10 per cent on Premier League transfers, which could have generated transformational sums for the grassroots game, will be taken forward by the Government. Fan-led review chair Tracey Crouch was delighted the Government had acted on the key strategic recommendations, and added: "The introduction of a new independent regulator of football will strengthen our incredible pyramid, giving investors, fans and communities confidence in the governance of our clubs, enabling them to thrive in the best leagues in the world. "Football is nothing without its fans, and the announcement today will ensure they remain at its heart while it continues to grow at home and abroad." Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell said: "Football reform has support across Parliament, and across the country. "In the 15 months it's taken the Government to finally publish a football white paper, Derby County nearly went under, Oldham Athletic was relegated, Chelsea changed hands and Manchester United, Newcastle, Liverpool and Bournemouth were all put up for sale. "The Premier League and EFL still haven't reached a deal on finances. And now a European Super League 2.0 is back on the table. "Fans are desperate for a say on the future of their clubs and the game. We can afford no further delay. The Government should urgently bring forward legislation, or take responsibility for any clubs that go under, spiral into decline or which are bought by unsuitable new owners, in the years they've wasted bringing the regulator." Football reform group Fair Game welcomed the initial outline of the White Paper's contents, with its chief executive Niall Couper saying: "Football is in crisis and the White Paper could change football for the better forever. "But we're deep in time added on for the introduction of the regulator. Every minute that passes, clubs move closer to the abyss. "So it is great to see the steps finally in place to make that regulator a reality. Fans want it, politicians want it, communities want it." The Government said plans to bring forward legislation will be announced as soon as parliamentary time allows.
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