Government plans to set up a new governing body for men’s football have prompted controversy. Should fans have the final say?
Huge shake-up to future of English football
Government plans to set up a new governing body for men's football have prompted controversy. Should fans have the final say?
The government has announced plans to set up a new governing body or "regulator" which will decide how British football clubs are run.
The regulator's new rules will insist that fans are involved when it comes to decisions such as choosing the logo, kit and names of their teams. The rules also mean that teams will only be able to compete in approved tournaments.
In addition, historic clubs will be prevented from closing by sharing funds from wealthier clubs, and there will also be tests in which club owners must prove they are suitable for the job and have built their own wealth legally.
Explaining the plans, the government commented: "The English game remains one of the UK's greatest cultural exports. That is why the government is taking the necessary ... steps to ensure that continues for generations." 1
The new announcement raises questions as to how far fans should be involved with the running of their clubs, as well as whether clubs be left to govern themselves independently and whether anyone should be allowed to buy and own a British football club, if they can afford to? If not, why not?
Some key figures in football were unimpressed with the new plans, believing that too much interference could prevent football clubs from attracting new financial investors and becoming more successful. The Premier League said it appreciated the government's "commitment" to protecting the league's success, but also added: "It is vital regulation does not damage the game or its ability to attract investment and grow interest."
Non-football fans may argue that none of this really matters, especially at a time - when wars are raging around the world and the cost-of-living crisis is causing immense hardship to so many. Yet football contributes a huge amount to the British economy. Between 2019 and 2020, the league made an £8.6 billion impact on the UK economy.2 The Premier League also supported 94,000 jobs, paying around £3.4 billion in salaries.
Whoever controls and manages British football, surely its survival and continuing success must be ensured but also be managed with integrity.
Should fans have the final say?
Yes: Football would not exist as a professional sport and industry without its fans
providing vital income to the clubs. Therefore they deserve a say in how it is run.
No: Football's financial contribution to the UK economy is huge and football is a
business as well as a sport. As such it should be run by professional businessmen
who understand how to ensure its success and profitability.
Or... British football plays a significant part in British culture as well as the economy,
so its future should not just be decided by businessmen and financiers but also by
the fans who support it.