FA will 'not have the STRENGTH to stand up to the Premier League' insist clubs and fans

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The FA would not have the strength to stand up to the Premier League if it was to become a new ‘independent’ regulator of the national game, insists a group of 34 clubs and fans.

The national body is too close to the top flight and EFL, according to Fair Game, a coalition of Football League and non-league clubs campaigning for change in football.

As revealed by Sportsmail last week, the FA has written to its Council members to inform them it wants to be the home of a new regulator, which could oversee the sharing of wealth and the financial management of clubs.

A regulator would oversee financial distribution from the Premier League to the EFL

A regulator would oversee financial distribution from the Premier League to the EFL

A critical issue any regulator is expected to oversee will be the redistribution of wealth from the top flight to the EFL and football pyramid.

At present, there is no agreement on how much money should be handed down or how a resolution will be reached. 

Government is keen to introduce a new regulator for the national game following repeated bids from the most powerful clubs to break away and financial mismanagement of teams throughout the football pyramid.

A Fan-Led Review of Football, led by Conservative MP and former sports minister Tracey Crouch, concluded an independent regulator was essential, among other governance changes, to safeguard the competitive future of the game and clubs.

The gulf in wealth between the Premier League and the EFL leads to reckless financial decisions

Government wants to create a regulator to protect competitions and clubs

The gulf in wealth between the Premier League and the EFL leads to reckless financial decisions and Government wants to create a regulator to protect competitions and clubs 

‘Having a regulator in hock to the Premier League does not make sense,’ said Niall Couper, chief executive of Fair Game.

PLANS FOR MORE SUSTAINABILITY

Fair Game is pushing for the introduction of a sustainability index, which it suggests could be used to help determine the distribution of funds throughout the football pyramid.

The aim would be to reward clubs that are well run, showing financial stability, good governance and high levels of fan and community involvement.

‘Clubs that score higher in a sustainability index should get more money from the distribution. It could incentivise clubs to behave well.

‘This is the opportunity to do it, or we will miss the boat.’

Couper suggests the organisations are too close, highlighting the FAs need for close cooperation with the top flight in order to stage the FA Cup, the organisation’s major source of revenue.

‘We have to have a system that avoids vested interest. We need to look at something that is properly independent.

‘Sadly, the FA until they sort out their governance and process and there is confidence they would stand up to the Premier League and EFL they are not the right people to be the regulator. They are nowhere near it at the moment.’

The Crouch Report, published in November, revealed some shortcomings of the FA, reporting 44% per cent of fans who responded to a survey conducted for the Fan-Led Review of Football felt the governing body was performing poorly or very poorly.

Of the 17,907 supporters who answered that question, only 15 per cent said the organisations was doing a good or very good job.

That scepticism is amplified by the Football Supporters’ Association.

‘The FSA have long been clear that we do not feel the FA has the strength of the independence and the standards of governance, currently, to be the home of an independent football regulator,’ said Kevin Miles, chief executive of the supporters’ organisation.

Crouch also highlighted areas where she said reform at the FA had been too slow, including the creation of ‘a modern, accountable and representative FA Board’, implementation of a licensing framework and changes to decision-making structures.

While the former sports minister and Conservative MP Crouch  recognised ‘small steps’ made by the FA in terms of governance in the last 10 years, she concluded reform did ‘not go far enough’.

Tracey Crouch's  fan-led review has been supported by the Government

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries wasted no time in endorsing the key recommendation for a football regulator

Tracey Crouch’s (left) fan-led review has been supported by the Government. Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries wasted no time in endorsing the key recommendation for a football regulator

‘The problems football is facing are complex and pressing and cannot wait for further reform – which there is no guarantee the authorities will be able to deliver,’ Crouch wrote in her report. 

Even so, the FA is hopeful it can make the case to Government to become the game’s regulator because it believes it is best placed to take on the role given its knowledge of the game.

Chairman Debbie Hewitt has written to members of the FA Council telling them that financial regulation in football is not working as well as it should and ‘change is required’.

FA chairman Debbie Hewitt has written to members about plans to host regulator

FA chairman Debbie Hewitt has written to members about plans to host regulator

‘Our starting point is that with the appropriate governance changes and investment in our organisation the regulator could be an independent arm of the FA, with its own independent governance using our experience of regulation and the game to create governance that works across football,’ she wrote.

The letter added: ‘Regarding the structure and function of a regulator, we believe we can reach a common understanding of this across the game to create a robust and effective solution to be housed within the FA.’

Ms Hewitt said the aim is to offer a ‘complete solution to Government’.

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries accepted the need for an independent regulator of football ‘in principle’ within 24 hours of receiving the Crouch Report on November 24. She said at the time that the ‘Government will ensure [clubs] are properly run and fans are protected’ and that incentives for ‘reckless financial decision making’ are removed.

Since then, a large team of civil servants at the Department for Digital Culture Media and Sport has worked on the report’s 47 recommendations, determining whether they could, or should, be implemented.

Ms Dorries is due to give a formal response to the Crouch Report in two to three months. Following that, Government could legislate to create a regulator, which would have powers to impose cost controls on clubs, with plans included in the Queen’s Speech in May.

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