English football to have independent regulator 'in 5 years', says review chair
London, Nov 15, 2022 (AFP) - The lawmaker behind a review of English football governance forecast Tuesday there would be an independent regulator "in five years" time and insisted the Premier League would remain profitable under a new regime.
Next week marks one-year since the release of a report by an independent fan-led review, established following the failed European Super League project, which called for a dramatic shake-up in the way the English game is run.
In April, the British government gave its support to the review's 10 key recommendations, including its centrepiece -- the planned introduction of a regulator with statutory powers to sanction clubs.
Other recommendations include a new owners' and directors' test to ensure "only good custodians and qualified directors" can run clubs, and greater consultation with fans.
Questions arose during the sale of Chelsea by Russian owner Roman Abramovich, who was targeted by UK sanctions after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Rights group Amnesty also criticised the purchase of Newcastle by a Saudi-backed consortium in October last year, saying it was an attempt to "sportswash" the Gulf kingdom's human rights record.
But since April, there have been two changes of Prime Minister, with Boris Johnson giving way to Liz Truss, who herself led the ruling Conservative adminstration for fewer than 50 days before being replaced by Rishi Sunak, a Southampton supporter, last month.
The political turmoil has led to concerns an administration facing pressing economic issues caused by a cost-of-living crisis and a looming recession will have little time for football governance reform.
"Yes, there has been slower progress than I think many of us would have wanted," former UK sports minister Tracey Crouch, the independent chair of the review, told a parliamentary group for football supporters on Tuesday.
"I am confident that in five years' time there will be an independent regulator of football... regardless of what colour the government is, that this will happen."
The Premier League said in April it accepted the need for reform but that a "statutory-backed regulator" was not necessary, while the chief executive of top-flight Leeds, Angus Kinnear, denounced the proposal as "akin to Maoist collective agriculturalism" which he said had been responsible for the greatest famine in history.
But Crouch, a member of a Conservative Party that has long advocated for free-market economics rather than mid-20th Century Chinese state communism, said: "I'm very pro the Premier League making lots and lots of money.
"I'm very proud of the fact that we have the best, most competitive, wealthiest league in the world. I don't genuinely believe that they should be giving their money to bad owners.
"That's why I think that we need to have the regulation in place, because it (the current system) is the equivalent of having the windows open and the heating on."
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