Transfer tax, supporter vetoes, parachute payments and fan reaction - The key points from football’s fan-led review explored

The fan-led review of football has been published, and includes some radical recommendations for reshaping the game.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 8:49 am
Football fans. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Here, the PA news agency provides some background on what’s in the review, and how we got here.

Why has there been a review?

It was promised by the Government as part of its 2019 General Election manifesto following the collapse of Bury, then commissioned earlier than expected amid the controversy around the short-lived European Super League.

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It is chaired by Conservative MP Tracey Crouch and the panel also included former England manager Roy Hodgson. Over 100 hours of evidence were heard over a six-month period.

What are the highlights?

Arguably the most striking, and surprising, recommendation is for the introduction of a “stamp duty” on transfers between Premier League clubs and on top-flight sides signing overseas players.

It also, as expected, called for the creation of an Independent Regulator for English Football, or IREF for short.

What can IREF do?

The review recommends it be created via an Act of Parliament and given wide-ranging powers to oversee financial regulation of the English men’s professional game – in the review’s opinion the game cannot be left to regulate itself any longer.

Clubs would operate under licence from IREF, and would have to provide regular information on key matters such as cash flow, equality and diversity plans and supporter engagement.

Anything else?

IREF would be responsible for ensuring the “stamp duty” mentioned above is paid, and would have backstop powers to impose a solution on the Premier League and the EFL if they cannot resolve the impasse on how money is distributed from the former to the latter, with parachute payments at the heart of the dispute.

IREF would also establish and oversee ‘fit and proper person’ tests for club owners and directors and ensure any owner investment was proportionate to the club’s size and income.

Did the review look at any other areas?

It called for the creation of “shadow boards” giving fans greater decision-making oversight and influence, and for supporters’ trusts to have ‘golden share’ powers to veto any critical decisions such as a change of ground, badge, name, club colours or entering breakaway leagues.

It also recommended the introduction of promotion and relegation clauses in player contracts as fixed percentages.

Clubs entering the EFL should be given a three-year grace period to lay a grass pitch, and the review also calls for the Government and the UK Football Policing Unit to work on a pilot scheme to allow the sale of alcohol in sight of the pitch at matches in the National League and League Two.

It also called on the game to provide improved mental health support to players released from the game, particularly at academy level, and for a similar review to be conducted for women’s football.

What has the reaction been?

The Football Supporters’ Association – whose chief executive Kevin Miles was part of the review panel – has welcomed the recommendations.

“This is potentially a huge step forward for football governance,” Miles said. “It’s now up to the Government to deliver upon the recommendations.”

The Government is understood to support the idea of IREF in principle and is set to publish a written ministerial statement on Thursday.