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"Car Crash" Football Regulator Talks With Culture Secretary Failed To Sweeten Clubs

(Alamy)

3 min read

Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer has failed to win over several clubs in the English Football League (EFL) after a series of tense meetings which were described as “shambles” and a “car crash”.

Pressure has been mounting for the Premier League and EFL to agree a financial deal between themselves. Government has said if top flight clubs cannot agree on how they will give money to lower league teams a new independent regulator will step in. 

Meanwhile Frazer has held meetings and hosted receptions with key stakeholders from the football sector to finalise a new deal for football clubs and fans. 

Last Thursday the Culture Secretary held a call with EFL teams to discuss plans for a Football Governance Bill which will legislate for an independent regulator.

One source with knowledge of the discussion said the meeting was a “car crash” and a "shambles". They said there were representatives from teams as high as the Championship who were concerned the current deal, which Government has urged all clubs to agree to sign, would not go far enough. 

Prior to this meeting the Culture Secretary spoke at a dinner in January hosted in Parliament for around 150 people including members of EFL clubs. One source who was at the event claimed Frazer’s speech was “pretty poor” and “lacked substance”. Frazer spoke on a panel with representatives from footballing bodies including UEFA.

“It lacked substance. [Frazer] just used different words to say the regulator was for the fans, but used different words to repeat the same message,” they told PoliticsHome.

A Culture, Media and Sport department spokesperson said the Government is on the "side of football fans" and will continue to engage with "leagues and clubs ahead of the introduction of the Football Governance Bill".

"We have a clear plan to deliver a sustainable future for football, with fans at its heart, and our legislation will deliver this through a tough new independent regulator."

A Football Governance Bill is yet to come to Parliament while there have been a number of disagreements between the Premier League, EFL and Government.

However, a potential financial deal for how much money the Premier League clubs should give to smaller teams in the EFL has hit an impasse for weeks and months. 

Senior figures from top flight clubs have called for an emergency meeting next week to end this long-running feud and disagreement, Sky News reported.

The broadcaster claimed Premier League clubs were looking at organising a meeting on 29 February to finalise a new deal which can be shown and agreeed with EFL clubs. 

Premier League clubs have raised concerns including how they will be able to afford the new deal. Many elite clubs are worried they will lose out on massive amounts of revenue by giving it away to lower league clubs.

The Government has been preparing to bring forward legislation for an independent regulator for several years. The Conservatives promised to kickstart a fan-led review in to reforming English football in its 2019 manifesto where the party won an 80 seat majority. 

Former sports minister Tracey Crouch launched the fan-led review into football in 2021 which included recommendations such as making the football pryamid more financially sustainable. 

In a White Paper published in 2023 the Government said money was not sufficiently distributed between England's elite clubs and teams in the lower leagues. 

A Football Governance Bill was at the heart of the Government’s in the King’s Speech in November.

Following the announcement several senior jobs have been advertised internally and to the public to help kickstart an independent regulator. PoliticsHome previously reported a role in the Civil Service to set up the regulator had closed in November.

The successful applicant could have potentially been renumerated with a salary of more than £100,000-a-year.

PoliticsHome reported in February a new Football Regulator Implementation Unit had been launched. Applications for a new role in the unit ended on 5 February. 

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