LONDON: Former sports minister Tracey Crouch has proposed an independent regulator to prevent English football “lurching from crisis to crisis.”

Crouch chaired a fan-led review which believes that root-and-branch governance reform is essential for the long-term financial stability of the men’s professional game.

It is unclear whether such a move would infringe FIFA statutes barring government interference into football administration.

Kicking off again?

In an interview with the BBC, Crouch said: “This is a huge opportunity for football. “We’ve seen it lurching from crisis to crisis over the past decade and unfortunately we haven’t had the right levels of regulation in place to stop that from happening.”

The review, which was commissioned by the government, also recommends Premier League clubs paying a “solidarity transfer levy” to further support the football pyramid.

It suggests clubs should have a ‘shadow board’ of fans so they are properly consulted on key decisions and that supporters hold a ‘golden share’ to protect their clubs’ heritage and which competitions they play in.

The review also proposes new owners’ and directors’ tests and that these are carried out by IREF instead of the Premier League, English Football League (EFL) and the Football Association (FA).

Crouch said she is “absolutely confident” that such measures would stop any revival of the European super league project but would also prevent clubs falling prey to bankruptcy.

She said a ‘shadow regulator’ could be set up ‘straight away’ to establish guiding principles.

The Premier League said it recognises the need to “restore and retain” the trust of fans in football governance and that it will study the recommendations before working with the government, fans, FA and EFL on these issues.

The EFL said it hopes the review is a “catalyst for positive change that can make clubs sustainable”.

The FA said “many positive changes have already been made”, some of which were “directly as a result” of the review.

The Football Supporters’ Association (FSA) said the review “lay the basis for a prosperous and sustainable future” for English football at all levels.

The major proposals are as follows:

  • The government should create a new independent regulator (IREF)
  • IREF should oversee financial regulation in football
  • IREF should establish new owners’ and directors’ tests
  • A new corporate governance code should be set up
  • Equality, diversity and inclusion plans should be mandatory for all clubs
  • Supporters should be consulted on all key off-field decisions through a ‘shadow board’
  • Key items of club heritage should be protected by a ‘golden share’ for fans
  • There should be more support from the Premier League to the pyramid through a solidarity transfer levy, paid by Premier League clubs on buying players from overseas or other top-flight clubs
  • Women’s football should be treated equally and given its own review
  • Stakeholders should work to increase protection of welfare of players leaving the game