Premier League chief denies trying to kick football regulator into the long grass
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has rebuffed suggestions that the organisation tried to “kick into the long grass” talks over an independent football regulator.
Masters was persistently questioned on the point by MPs at a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing on Tuesday.
After denying that the expression had been used by anyone employed by the Premier League at a shareholders’ meeting, he was asked to state as much in writing to the committee by chair Damian Green MP.
“I don’t recognise the ‘kick it into the long grass’ narrative. It is true to say that some people felt that [the league was acting that way] – I just don’t recognise it,” said Masters.
“It certainly wouldn’t have been said by the Premier League. I can’t recall it; that’s not to say that it hasn’t happened. These meetings are five hours long.
“We haven’t been very successful if we’ve been trying to do that because here we are talking about it. There’s a difference between trying to frustrate a process or trying to kill it off, and trying to engage with it properly and trying to make sure your legitimate concerns are heard and addressed.
“I categorically tell you that it has not been the policy of the Premier League to work with its clubs to try to kick this into the long grass. We have had a strategy of engagement from the outset and we want to continue to do that.”
Former sports minister Tracey Crouch MP, whose fan-led review shaped proposals for the incoming football regulator, earlier told the committee that she had found attempts to collaborate with the Premier League “challenging”.
“Reports suggest both the EFL and Premier League agree that more money needs to flow through the pyramid,” Crouch said.
“I therefore find it confusing why the Premier League doesn’t support an independent regulator to help ensure that there is more security and confidence in that money going down the pyramid.”
Pressed on whether the Premier League supported a regulator, Masters said: “I don’t like yes or no answers because there’s always a nuance in between. We’re totally accepting the regulator is happening and we want to make it work. On that basis it is obviously getting to a yes.”
Masters was also contradicted by English Football League counterpart Rick Parry after saying of a beefed-up owners’ and directors’ test: “We’ve got to get the detail right so that it doesn’t choke off investment but does attract the right people.”
Parry responded: “Why would it encourage good investors not to take part if we have a proper regulatory system? I think we’ll get better quality owners. We have to make that leap.
“One of the pluses of the independent regulator is that if they have appropriate statutory powers they will be able to do the owners and directors test much more effectively than we can in terms of getting relevant information on the new owners.”