MPs have called on the bosses of England’s top football leagues to end the “fiasco” over emergency funding, warning they could introduce new regulation if the game failed to reform itself.
The Premier League has been locked in fraught negotiations over a bailout deal for clubs in the English Football League (EFL), which have seen their income slashed due to the lack of spectators during the pandemic.
The two sides are said to be nearing a deal after EFL clubs agreed “in principle” to a £50m funding package for clubs in League One and Two, having initially rejected the offer last month.
But MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee today said they were “losing patience” and urged bosses to end the “current fiasco”.
“Fans have waited a long time for a solution that would safeguard their clubs but all they can see is squabbling at the top of the game. Football and its followers deserve better,” said committee chair Julian Knight.
“The current fiasco in reaching an agreement isn’t about the lack of money, but lack of leadership.”
The MPs said they were putting Premier League boss Richard Masters and EFL chairman Rick Parry “on notice”, telling them to update the committee on every discussion held over the funding package.
They also threatened to introduce regulation if the two sides were unable to come to an agreement.
“The predecessor DCMS Committee called for legislation to bring in an independent system of football licensing and regulation if the game wasn’t able to reform itself. That time may be fast approaching,” Knight said.
The government yesterday unveiled a £300m emergency funding package to help English sport clubs survive ongoing coronavirus restrictions through the winter.
But the Premier League and EFL were excluded from the rescue deal, with ministers pointing to the top-flight division’s £1.2bn splurge during the summer transfer window.
The two sides have come under criticism for their failure to agree on a deal, but it is not the only controversy to rock English football in recent weeks.
The Premier League has been forced to scrap its much-maligned pay-per-view policy — which charged viewers £14.95 to watch a single game — following a backlash from fans.
Earlier this month FA chairman Greg Clarke stepped down after attracting widespread criticism for a term he used to refer to black footballers during a DCMS committee hearing.