A new independent football regulator will be given powers to step in and resolve the sport’s financial row, according to a report.
The regulator will also oversee a more robust owners’ and directors’ test and introduce a licensing system paid for by clubs to ensure they are being run sustainably, The Sun reported.
The newspaper said it had seen a blueprint of the Government’s White Paper in response to the recommendations of the fan-led review, due to be published next week.
A regulator will be handed “Robin Hood-style powers” to “take money from the mega-rich Premier League to distribute funds across lower leagues”, it added.
The fan-led review called for the regulator to be given backstop powers to impose a financial distribution settlement if one could not be agreed between the Premier League, English Football League and the Football Association.
The three organisations are meeting regularly to discuss the so-called ‘New Deal For Football’ which includes cash distribution from the Premier League to the rest of the pyramid.
The EFL’s chairman Rick Parry has called for a 25 per cent share in all broadcast revenues for his organisation, something the Premier League’s chief executive Richard Masters had said would be a “disaster”.
Parry has admitted his organisation has “virtually no leverage” in the talks and had called for a new regulator to be given backstop powers.
The report does not mention anything in the White Paper regarding a transfer levy of up to 10 per cent to further support the pyramid, which had been one of the recommendations of the fan-led review.
In addition to the backstop powers to potentially increase funding going to lower-league clubs, The Sun reports that a regulator will operate a licensing system designed to ensure clubs are being run sustainably and for the benefit of their supporters and the communities they serve.
It will do this by introducing new tests to more thoroughly vet owners, ensure minimum standards for fan engagement around key decisions related to a club’s cultural heritage, and crucially require teams only to enter competitions approved by the regulator.
The Sun says the intention of this is to prevent clubs staging any repeat of April 2021, where the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ signed up as founder members of a new European Super League.
The league quickly fell apart amid fan protests and opposition from the football authorities and the Government. The fiasco was the catalyst for the Government to commission the fan-led review earlier than it had initially intended, with the country still immersed in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic at the time.
The details reported by The Sun received a ‘B-plus’ from Niall Couper, the chief executive of the football reform group Fair Game, which has long campaigned for an independent regulator and says clubs should be rewarded with greater funding for being run sustainably.
Couper said: “There is at last a new path for a fairer future for football: Financial controls to stop a repeat of the heartache caused by the collapse of Bury. A licensing system that prevents a European Super League. An owners and directors test that is at last ‘fit and proper’.
“Credit must also go to Tracey Crouch MP who began this journey over a year ago with the fan-led review she chaired.
“But it is not perfect. Over the new football weeks those that truly care about football need to work tirelessly to turn this into an A*.”
He added: “Football needs a culture change. We need a fairer financial flow in football controlled by a regulator that rewards well-run clubs.
“Clubs that cherish financial sustainability, good governance, fan engagement, community engagement and equality standards. Football needs the Sustainability Index.”
Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary Lucy Powell said: “It’s about time the Government publish the long-awaited football white paper.
“More than a year after the fan-led review, following the European Super League fiasco, and a number of clubs on the brink, it can’t come soon enough. Yet it still won’t be actual legislation for years to come.
“While we wait to see the published detail, Labour strongly supports football regulation and a meaningful voice for fans. The Government has dithered and delayed taking action.”