Major Reform Planned for English Men’s Football

The UK government has laid out plans to majorly overhaul and reform men’s football. This follows the publication of strategic recommendations from a fan-led review in 2021, and the recent announcement that an in-depth review of women’s football in the UK will be conducted later in 2022.

Establishing a Regulator

A key part of these reforms will be to establish an independent regulator for clubs and introduce some statutory backing to the reforms being put in. It needs to be made clear that such changes are to be made with the idea that they will target the financial management of the club and not the management of the players. It is easy to assume that such a proposal would be to target other aspects of the game, but the government is clear that it wishes to focus on the sustainability and corporate side of the beautiful game.

As an example as to why this is needed, it is thought that many of the Premier League and Championship teams are exceeding guidance on spending within the club. No more than 70% of club revenue is supposed to be spent on wages. Yet many teams are doing so to be able to hold onto their top talent, and this can cause weak balance sheets that would not be acceptable in any other industry.

Owner and Director Tests

Look at any of the major teams followed by odds platforms like Mr Green Sports. They are most likely held by owners on behalf of the local communities they support. Therefore, it is vital that any owners and directors who come onboard understand this relationship between the fans and the club. These relationships are trans-generational and are steeped in history, culture and tradition.

The Premier League and FA already have similar tests in place that are supposed to help out. Many, however, think that the current tests do not go far enough. These are vital parts of many communities, and the fans here want to ensure that new owners and directors meet a certain level of integrity. This then means that directors and senior managers within the team can move to make choices that are the best for the team overall, rather than just the best financial team.

Reaction from the Industry

The news that the world of football was considering an overhaul was more than welcomed by the industry. Though one might imagine that there would be a backlash to such measures, they are very much welcome, as there are many that feel the industry is long overdue for some changes.

The FA recognises that change is long overdue. English football needs to be held to a high standard if it is to remain so loved around the world, and it can only do so with proper reform. These clubs are at the centre of their communities, and this needs to remain the priority. Financial regulation will prevent this priority shifting to a straight corporate venture, as we see some owners attempting to do.

This has also been accepted by the Professional Footballers’ Association. They have welcomed the changes that such reforms would bring, but have called for more support to be given to players. Whether it is youth talent leaving a football academy or a player retiring after a long career, they want to see the support the player might need there.

Such a move by the UK government has been welcomed, but there are also those who are concerned that it might be too little too late. Change needs to come sooner rather than later, and there are currently concerns that the current plans will be implemented too far in the future when support and change is needed now.

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