Explainer-Soccer-How will an independent football regulator change the English game

  • Football
  • Wednesday, 20 Mar 2024

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Leeds United v Brighton & Hove Albion - Elland Road, Leeds, Britain - March 11, 2023 Leeds United's Patrick Bamford celebrates scoring their first goal in front of Leeds United fans Action Images via Reuters/Craig Brough/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - An independent football regulator (IFR) for the English game took another step closer to becoming reality on Tuesday as the Football Governance Bill was introduced in Parliament.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hailed it as an 'historic moment' for the game but what exactly will change when it becomes law?


The IFR will have powers to operate a licensing scheme for the top-five levels of the English pyramid from the Premier League down to the National League.

Licences will be subject to clubs meeting requirements with regard to financial stability, owners' suitability, fan engagement and the protection of clubs' heritage such as club badges, kit colour and stadiums.

It will also have backstop powers to impose an agreement between the Premier League and Football League on how wealth is redistributed if no agreement can be reached. Clubs will also be barred from joining "closed shop" leagues such as the proposed European Super League.


While the Premier League is regarded as the best in Europe with clubs enjoying eye-watering TV broadcasting revenue, the picture below that is far less rosy.

Since the Premier League came into being in 1992, there have been 61 cases of clubs entering administration with some, such as Bury and Macclesfield Town, going under.

When six Premier League clubs announced they would join a European Super League in 2021 -- only to make rapid U-turns -- it was seen as a line in the sand and prompted a fan-led review of the running of the men's game.


The IFR is being touted as a "light touch" advocacy-first regulator that will work in unison with the football authorities and will not involve itself with sporting rules.

However, when there are urgent cases or serious instances of non-compliance the IFR could intervene directly.

It will have the power to impose financial penalties on clubs up to a maximum of 10% of their annual revenue but will not be able to impose sporting sanctions, such as points deductions or bans on player registrations.

In a worst-case scenario a club could have their licence withdrawn, making them ineligible to enter competitions.


Fans of English clubs have long complained about being ignored by team owners in the decision-making process and are ultimately the ones to suffer when clubs are badly run.

The IFR will make fan engagement a mandatory requirement for a licence, requiring clubs to regularly consult with representative groups on issues such as strategic direction, operational issues and club heritage.

While the Football Supporters' Association welcomes the creation of an independent regulator, clubs will not be duty bound to act upon the views of their fans.


The Premier League has its own profit and financial sustainability rules which both Everton and Nottingham Forest have fallen foul of this season to incur points deductions.

It has its own owners' charter and delivers what it says is world-leading funding through 1.6 billion pounds ($2.04 billion) distributed to all levels across the current three-year term.

The idea of it being regulated by a Government-backed independent regulator does not sit well, although it says it will study the Football Governance Bill and work closely with government and stakeholders.


No timeline is being given although Lucy Frazer, the UK culture secretary, said on Tuesday it would be made law before the next General Election which is expected to be in late 2024.

Like all new bills, the Football Governance Bill will go through the parliamentary process in the House of Commons and House of Lords before gaining royal assent for it to become law.

In the meantime, a 'Shadow Regulator' will carry out preparatory work to ensure the IFR is operationally ready as soon as possible.

($1 = 0.7860 pounds)

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!

Next In Football

Soccer-Champions Manchester City celebrate fourth successive title in blue parade
Soccer-Bittersweet farewell for Xavi as Barca end season with a win
Soccer-Frosinone relegated from Serie A after Empoli score added-time winner
Soccer-Al-Wasl claim UAE Pro League with Shabab Al Ahli win to complete double
Soccer-Club Brugge win Belgium title after late surge in championship playoffs
Soccer-Napoli's European hopes end with 0-0 draw against Lecce
Soccer-Galatasaray clinch 24th Turkish title with 3-1 victory
Southampton promoted to Premier League with 1-0 playoff win over Leeds
Rhinos go into break unbeaten, but Kim Swee won’t let them rest easy
Kedah urge fans to help team survive financial crisis by interacting with sponsors

Others Also Read