'Potentially a huge step forward' - Prominent national fan group and Hartlepool United Supporters' Trust react to major football review

A major fan-led review of football governance has been welcomed by supporter groups both nationally and in the North East.
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The review aimed to “explore ways of improving the governance, ownership and financial sustainability of clubs in English football”.

It also aimed to “engage extensively with fans to ensure any recommendations are led by fans’ experience and interests.”

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The creation of an independent regulator via an Act of Parliament was the central recommendation of the review.

Its primary purpose would be to ensure clubs were being run sustainably and for the benefit of their communities through a licensing system.

The regulator would have responsibility for administering strengthened owners’ and directors’ tests, and would impose a solution on financial distribution between the Premier League and the EFL if they cannot work one out themselves.

The review also proposed a transfer levy of up to 10 per cent on Premier League clubs signing players from overseas or from other top-flight clubs.

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It also called for a pilot on the sale of alcohol in sight of the pitch at selected National League and League Two matches, better support for young players released from academy and a separate review of women’s football.

Hartlepool United fans.Hartlepool United fans.
Hartlepool United fans.

Kevin Miles, chief executive of the FSA (Football Supporters’ Association), said: “This is potentially a huge step forward for football governance – the Government committed to a fan-led review which has listened to the voice of fans. It’s now up to the Government to deliver upon the recommendations.

“The review’s proposals to strengthen the voice of supporters in the game, protect football’s heritage and the pyramid, and provide genuine independent regulation, lay the basis for a prosperous and sustainable future for football at all levels.”

Sunderland AFC supporter organisation, The Red and White Army (RAWA), tweeted: “RAWA passed a resolution at last week's AGM to back this and along with fellow supporter groups across the country we will lobby government for its full implementation.”

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Meanwhile, the Hartlepool United Supporters Trust (HUST) tweeted: “Recommendations have been published following the fan-led review into football governance. The FSA provide a great summary in this article.

“HUST took part in a number of sessions leading up to publication. Really pleased that concrete, democratic & fair proposals are included."

Some of the key findings – as outlined by the FSA – included:

- “The Government should create a new independent regulator for English football (IREF) established by an Act of Parliament based upon specialist business regulation adapted to the football industry. IREF should operate a licensing system for professional men’s football.

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- To ensure financial sustainability of the professional game, IREF should oversee financial regulation in football which should be based upon prudential regulation in other industries recognising that football is obviously sport but also now big business.

- New owners’ and directors’ tests for clubs should be established by IREF replacing the three existing tests to ensure that only good custodians and qualified directors can run these vitally important community and cultural assets.

- There should be a new corporate governance code to support a long-term sustainable future of the game. This should be mandatory for all professional clubs with common requirements tailored to different leagues.”

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