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European Super League Ruling Puts Pressure On UK To Move On New Football Regulator


3 min read

Football campaigners and MPs have called for the Football Governance Bill, which would introduce an independent football regulator, to be introduced early next year after the decision to block the European Super League was found to be unlawful.

While changes that would allow for a new football regulator were already expected in 2024, the government now faces pressure to move quickly on proposals after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled Fifa and Uefa’s decision to block the breakaway European Super League – which would combine Europe’s most successful teams – was unlawful. The ECJ concluded both Fifa and Uefa were breaking competition law by claiming they could financially punish teams who joined the new international division. 

The Football Governance Bill, which was in the King’s Speech in November, will aim to introduce a new football regulator, establish an owners’ and directors’ test, give fans a greater say in their club, block breakaway leagues and protect heritage of all football teams.

MPs and activists who have been instrumental in calling for a regulator have vowed to use the new measures when passed to block elite Premier League clubs from applying and joining the European Super League.

PoliticsHome understands the legislation could receive its first reading by January. After the first reading is tabled an advert for the Chair of the Regulator will be published.

Following the ECJ ruling, a Department for Culture Media and Sport spokesperson said the Government will be bringing forward legislation that makes a football regulator a reality, which will stop clubs from joining any similar breakaway competitions in the future.

Niall Couper, CEO of Fair Game, told PoliticsHome one of the main drivers behind the Independent Regulator was the original European Super League – as well as the financial collapse of historic clubs such as Bury FC, Macclesfield Town and Chester City.

“The news should be a sharp reminder to our politicians about why its implementation should be put into overdrive. At risk is the very future of our national game,” Couper said.

A potential Bill to legislate for an independent regulator was rumoured to have its first reading in November. PoliticsHome understands bringing in the legislation for a new regulator is something the Government wants to get right so it does not want to rush the legislative process.

The Government said in September that a new regulator would “have a tightly defined scope focused on financial sustainability”.

The regulator will specifically address financial issues in football, and will force clubs to get a licence to play in any of England’s top five leagues.

PoliticsHome recently reported that a senior role in the Civil Service to kickstart an independent football regulator has already closed its application process. The successful applicant is expected to receive a salary of more than £100,000-a-year.

A shadow regulator could receive funding after a proposed bill passes its Second Reading, which could take place as early as February. Government will then be able to set up a transition team working on the shadow regulator. 

The Government has repeatedly committed to introducing legislation which would help set up an independent regulator, a policy that is seen as a vote winner. Polling company YouGov found 80 per cent of football fans supported the introduction of an independent football regulator, while 8 per cent either tended to or strongly opposed it.

Among the electorate 56 per cent of people supported it while 5 per cent of voters were against it. However, 39 per cent of Britons had not made up their minds up about the policy, according to the poll.

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