Premier League: Towards an independent regulator for football finance

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Following the Super League controversy and the sale of Chelsea by Abramovich, the British government wanted to establish an independent regulator of its football, Premier League and other local divisions to ensure more sustainable and ethical financing.

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The British government on Monday announced the creation of an independent regulator of English football to ensure its funding is sustainable, despite objections from the Premier League, which manages the high-profile local first division.

a government regulator

Ministers formally endorsed the ten recommendations set out in a report published in November at the request of the government. In particular, it suggests better consultation with fans and a fair distribution of income from the Premier League, the richest championship in the world. The report, overseen by former British sports minister Tracy Crouch, was prepared with supporters and commissioned in April 2021 following the scandal caused by the European Super League project launched by the largest English, Spanish and Italian clubs.

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The minister wants an independent regulator to be able to oversee the club’s finances and possibly have the power to license and sanction them. According to experts at audit firm Deloitte, during the 2018-19 season, before the Covid-19 pandemic, clubs in the English Second Division (called the Championship) spent an average of 107% of their income on salaries, well beyond UEFA New objectives set by (70%).

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Subsequent measures of the Superleague and … the case of Abramovich

The government also wants the regulator to be able to introduce new procedures for evaluating club owners, specifically by practicing “integrity tests”. All this against the backdrop of the ongoing sale of Chelsea FC by its Russian boss Roman Abramovich, an elite targeted by sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine.

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The NGO Amnesty International recently cast doubt on the owner of Chelsea and recent buyers of a Saudi consortium, Newcastle. But it is still unclear whether human rights will be part of this integrity test. Current Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said he was convinced that radical change was needed to secure the future of English football.

The Premier League, which churns out hundreds of millions of pounds, has admitted reform is needed but is not in favor of a government setting up a regulator with statutory powers. According to Tracy Crouch, the report is “a big step forward” towards major football reform, but its still unclear agenda is “worrisome” for clubs and supporters.

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