Trust Chair’s Briefing On Football White Paper

Keith Morgan, Trust Chair

Trust Chair Keith Morgan lays down the key issues in the UK Government White Paper on the future of football.

In November last year, we updated Trust members with the contents of a Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) report setting out Government progress over the first year since the initial report was created in getting the report into legislation via a White Paper. That White Paper, after some delays, was finally published today.

Set out below is a brief comparison of the “one-year on” review with the White Paper contents. The bold type is the contents of the FSA report together with Government initial reaction to it. Underneath is set out how the White Paper deals with each point:

  1. a) Creation of an Independent Regulator of English football-recommendation accepted
  2. b) The IREF to oversee financial regulation in football- accepted
  3. c) New strengthened owners and directors test – accepted
  4. d) A new approach to corporate governance – accepted
  5. e) To improve diversity, equality and inclusion in clubs -accepted need to support clubs in implementing this
  6. f) Supporters to be properly consulted by clubs in making key decisions by the formation of Fans Advisory Boards – supported with details of mechanism to follow
  7. g) Additional protection for assets of key club heritage (stadium, colours, name etc.) – supported with details to follow
  8. h) Fairer distribution of funding in football – supported (football authorities to implement ahead of White Paper
  9. i) Women`s football to be treated with parity and be subject to a separate review – accepted
  10. j) To carry out an urgent review of support for footballers leaving the game – supported but as a matter for the football authorities 

Sports Minister Stuart Andrew started his address to Parliament at 12 noon today and finished at 12.50. The main points of interest were as follows:

  1. He was effectively told off by the Deputy Speaker for giving a briefing to the media yesterday with an embargo until last night before he addressed Parliament.
  2. He was highly critical of the football authorities for not putting their own house in order, leading to the need for the Fans Led Review.
  3. Cardiff City was specifically mentioned as an example of bad practice by owners for changing the club colours and badge without proper consultation and consent of the fanbase.
  4. He gave a figure of £6bn as being the current level of net debt across the Premier League and EFL clubs.
  5. He confirmed that the following issues are in the White Paper taken direct from the Fans Led Review
  1. The appointment of Independent Regulator of English Football (IREF) and an interim one to push things along until it happens.
  2. A greatly strengthened owners and directors test.
  3. Fans to have a greater involvement in all major club decisions.
  4. A ban on clubs joining new invitational leagues such as the European Super League.
  5. The IREF will have “fallback” powers over the distribution of cash between the leagues if the PL and EFL don`t change things themselves in the near future.

MPs speaking in response all gave their support to the White Paper and pressed for its implementation ASAP.

It will probably not be fully debated in Parliament until the Autumn 2023 session and then be brought into law in time for the 2024-25 season.

There will be a 12-week consultation period in which the Trust will be invited to contribute.

Keith Morgan said: “The Trust is very pleased to see the long awaited White Paper published because it will mean radical changes to the way football is run and lead to far greater involvement of fans in their clubs which is long overdue.”