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A Westminster Hall Debate on the Future of Football Governance is scheduled for Wednesday 25 November at 2.30 pm. Clive Efford MP will open the debate. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted long-standing issues in football, particularly the financial sustainability of the game and how it is governed. Without income from fans attending games, there are fears that some clubs in the lower leagues may not survive.

On 18 October 2020, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) announced details of £10 million for National League clubs in the fifth and sixth tiers of the game to help cover lost gate revenue. The money for the initiative is coming from a National Lottery promotional fund.

A DCMS press release of 19 November set out details of a “winter survival package” for spectator sports, including women’s football and other clubs in the National League:

  • Women’s Football (Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Championship): £3 million.

The Premier League (PL) has said that it will not allow any Football League (EFL) club to go out of business, but a funding package has not yet been agreed. The Government has urged the PL and EFL to agree a deal.  Julian Knight, Chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee has warned that MPs are “losing patience” and that legislation may be needed if the game can’t reform itself.

Time for change?

The Conservative Party 2019 Manifesto included a commitment to set up a “a fan-led review of football governance”. This has not yet started.

The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) is the representative body for supporters in England and Wales. The FSA has launched a “Sustain the Campaign” based on the following principles:

  1. Protect our clubs – football clubs are community assets and an important expression of individual and local identity, they deserve legal protection and urgent support to secure their future;
  2. Transparency – everyone has a right to know who owns their club, and how clubs and the authorities operate. Owners are custodians of clubs on behalf of all of us
  3. Financial controls – fans want rules with real teeth which are independently enforced, clubs and leagues can’t be left to regulate themselves;
  4. Strengthen the pyramid – football as a whole is wealthy, but we need a smarter and fairer use of the money in the game to encourage sustainability
  5. Supporter engagement – fans are the lifeblood of the game, they need a voice in their clubs and on all issues that affect them and their communities.

The FSA has also published a Code of Practice on the Stewardship of Football Clubs (2019) which sets out guidance for clubs and owners on issues that have previously caused problems. These include name changes, playing colours and badges, stadium location, training facilities, failure to honour wages, and tax commitments. The Code would also stop owners loading debt onto a club in order to finance its purchase. The proposals are backed by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Football Supporters.


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