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Football needs a truly independent regulator

Football and its relationship with fans is once again under the spotlight on the international stage, attracting a global audience which is estimated to be more than half the world’s population. The FIFA World Cup in Qatar has already seen a stellar performance from the Three Lions against Iran, a shock defeat for the Argentinians to Saudi Arabia and even more unanswered questions levelled at the international governing body of football, FIFA.

While football takes the global stage the second round of the oldest national football competition in the world kicks off this weekend, with forty sides from across England and Wales competing in the FA Cup. Of the teams playing from across the football league system, a growing number have over the years fallen foul of financial issues and questions surrounding their ownership. Portsmouth F.C., Charlton Athletic F.C. and Derby County Football Club, all of whom are inextricably linked with their local communities and supporter groups, are three such examples competing this weekend.

While performances on the pitch begin to take centre stage, it is worth considering that just 16 months ago the English game was in the throes of controversy, particularly amid the uproar and fury of the proposed European Super League. That is why today, we are launching For Fans Too, a supporter’s first campaign advocating for improved governance and regulation of the beautiful game in England – ultimately to improve the experience for fans.

Exactly a year ago today the MP for Chatham and Aylesford, Tracey Crouch MP published her Independent Report detailing ten recommendations to be implemented, the fragility of the game and the lack of governance.

Since then, none of the considered recommendations made in the 50,000-word document have landed in Westminster or have been implemented. Surprising when you consider the outpour of support from the game’s biggest names, the cross-party political buy-in and the real appetite amongst the UK public for the protection of these community assets.

Despite the leadership change at FIFA, the organisation remains one with many questions to answer regarding its governance and regulation. But with the ball rolling for the English game, albeit slightly slower than hoped, the opportunity for positive change has been presented. When you consider the spectacle and brilliance of the FA Cup, a competition that sees clubs from as far down as Level 9 and as high as the Premier League compete against one another, the need for regulation and governance to protect the clubs that compete in English domestic competitions is evident.

For Fans Too is a timely campaign, building on Crouch’s findings and going further. Demonstrating clearly that football is broken, and fans are continuing to be let down. To fix this, English football requires a suitable and robust governance structure, and a truly independent regulator taking guidance from established industries, all to ensure the game is regulated fairly. If implemented correctly per the guidance in our report, which is set to be published in February 2023, the game will improve for fans and give them the game they deserve – ensuring football really is For Fans Too.

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