Fans at the heart of football reform plans says Sports Minister Stuart Andrew

Sports Minister Stuart Andrew has set out plans for a new independent regulator in football (Martin Rickett/PA) (PA Wire)
Sports Minister Stuart Andrew has set out plans for a new independent regulator in football (Martin Rickett/PA) (PA Wire)

Plans for a new independent regulator will put fans “back at the heart of football”, Sports Minister Stuart Andrew has said.

A new White Paper on football governance published on Thursday sets out the proposed scope of the new regulator’s powers.

Clubs will be required to adhere to minimum standards on fan engagement as part of a licensing system overseen by the regulator, forcing them to abide by Football Association rules giving fans veto powers over changes of a club’s name, badge and kit colour.

The regulator will also have to pre-approve any stadium move, and has powers to block clubs from joining breakaway leagues which do not meet predetermined criteria, following on from the European Super League scandal of 2021.

Any new competitions would need to be meet predetermined criteria, likely to include that they are meritocratic and do not threaten the sustainability of the existing English domestic league structure.

The licensing system will also require clubs to set out their financial plans and how they would respond to shocks, and is working on an enhanced owners’ and directors’ test covering fitness and propriety, enhanced due diligence on source of funding and robust financial plans.

The regulator would also have targeted powers to resolve disputes between the football authorities on financial distribution. One option under consideration is a binding, final offer arbitration process where the Premier League and EFL each submit a proposal and the regulator chooses the one it feels is most appropriate.

Andrew, addressing the House of Commons, said: “This government has proven time and time again that we err on the side of fans.

“We committed to this review in our manifesto, we stepped in during COVID to make sure English football was one of the first leagues back across Europe.

“We got fans back into stadiums quicker than almost any other country and we took action under competition law to support broadcasting revenues during one of the most difficult periods sport has ever faced. This secured £100million of funding to the game.

“We stepped in once again to block the European Super League, a competition that no fans wanted. When fans have needed us, we have been in their corner and now we are putting them right back at the heart of football.”