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The Football Governance Bill [Bill 187 2023-24] (PDF) was introduced in the House of Commons on 19 March 2024. A date for second reading has not yet been announced.

What would the Bill do?

The Football Governance Bill would establish an independent regulator for the top five tiers of men’s football in England. In a Written Statement of 19 March 2024, Stuart Andrew, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), said the regulator’s primary purpose would be to ensure that English football was “sustainable and resilient for the benefit of fans and the local communities football clubs serve”. The regulator would do this through:

  • Operating a licensing system, where all clubs in the top five tiers of the men’s game would need a licence to operate.
  • Establishing a new, strengthened owners’ and directors’ test to make sure a club’s custodians were suitable and to protect fans from irresponsible owners. 
  • Setting a minimum standard of fan engagement and requiring clubs to comply with new FA rules on club heritage.
  • Requiring clubs to seek regulator pre-approval for any sale or relocation of their stadium. 
  • Preventing clubs from joining breakaway leagues that did not have the support of fans or that threatened the heritage or sustainability of English football.
  • Having a backstop power to intervene in the distribution of broadcast revenue if the leagues failed to reach an agreement.
  • Establishing a compulsory “Football Club Corporate Governance Code”.

The Bill would extend to England and Wales only.

Background to the Bill

The Bill is in response to longstanding concerns about issues such as:

  • the financial sustainability of the game.
  • the ownership of clubs.
  • the lack of fan involvement in the running of clubs.

The above concerns, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the game, and abandoned plans for a European Super League, led to a Fan-led Review of football in 2021. This recommended, among other things, that an independent regulator should be established for the English game. The Government accepted the recommendation. A February 2023 football white paper confirmed the Government’s plans to establish a regulator through legislation.

More on the Bill

The DCMS has published Explanatory Notes (PDF), an Impact Assessment (PDF) and a Human Rights Memorandum (PDF) on the Bill.

Factsheets on the following aspects of the Bill are available:

The Regulatory Policy Committee (RPC) has published an Opinion on the Government’s Impact Assessment on the Bill (PDF).

 


Documents to download

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