Statement on Fan Led Review of Football Governance

Mr Speaker, with your permission, I would like to make a statement setting out the Government’s response to the Independent Fan Led Review of Football Governance. This is further to my Written Statement issued earlier today. The Government’s response has been provided in hard copy to the Vote Office. I will also be placing a copy in the Libraries of both Houses.

At the start, I want to thank my Honourable Friend, the Member for Chatham and Aylesford, and the entire panel for their diligent work on the Review – and indeed colleagues from across the House and all stakeholders who have debated these matters at length over a number of years.

Most importantly Mr Speaker, I want to thank the dozens of clubs and thousands of football fans from across the country who contributed to the Review. They sit at the heart of the Review and our response to it.

Football is a defining part of our national identity, and has been a central part of British life for over a century.

English football has had some extraordinary success. Our Premier League has grown to become the most watched sports league in the world.

However, good governance of our clubs has not kept pace with this expansion and development.

The football pyramid itself has come under threat in recent times, with clubs risking collapse.

Many fans have felt alienated from their own clubs.

It is obvious that reform is needed to keep our national game alive and thriving.

This Government has already taken strong action to support the reform of football.

This includes financial support to help clubs through the pandemic, and amendments to competition law to provide financial stability to English football.

But, we also committed to undertaking a review of football governance in our manifesto, a review led by fans and for fans, a review to protect the future of professional football in this country.

In late November, the independent ‘Fan Led Review of Football Governance’ published its Report.

I am today pleased to announce the publication of the Government’s response to that report.

Our response acknowledges the clear case for reform, and sets out our approach to move forward. It marks a significant step in protecting our national game.

Today I am confirming that the Government will introduce an independent regulator for football, in law, as part of a wider plan for reform.

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE

An independent regulator is just one of 10 strategic recommendations set out in the Report. I am pleased to say that the Government will endorse all of the Review’s strategic recommendations.

Some of these are for government to implement; and some are for the football authorities to take forward. And we expect them to take action too.

As well as surveying thousands of fans directly, the Review benefited from over 100 hours of engagement involving representatives of over 130 clubs. This all built a clear picture of the challenges in the game.

The Review, and our response, are for them. For the fans who make our national game what it is – and without whom, football would be nothing.

To coincide with the response, we are also publishing the findings of a Government-commissioned study by academics and football finance experts Kieran Maguire and Christina Philippou.

Their analysis confirms that there is a widespread issue of fragile finances across English football clubs, and that action is needed to secure the sustainability of the game.

The sum total of our plans amount to significant reform. In our response, we are committing to publish a white paper in the summer which will set out

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