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| 1 minute read

A sea change for the beautiful game?

I was very pleased to see today that the Government has agreed to implement all the key recommendations of the Crouch fan-led review into football in England. Attention will undoubtedly focus on the introduction of the new independent regulator (IREF), and the associated powers that IREF will have in relation to owners and finance. But there are other, equally important recommendations further down Tracey Crouch's list that supporters should welcome.

In particular, the report stated that football 'needs a new approach to corporate governance to support a long-term sustainable future'. Well, quite. The proposals focus on a 'code for football governance' with which clubs will be required to demonstrate compliance on an annual basis, noting that the code should be 'proportionate' in its requirements (we might legitimately expect more from Arsenal than from Torquay United FC - no disrespect intended to Torquay, despite me being an Exeter fan). 

The new code will set out the need for clubs to have a 'clear and appropriate governance structure', and also proposes that those owning and managing clubs should be required to report on how they are 'stewarding' what the report calls 'precious community assets'. This is absolutely right and comes not a moment too soon; the phenomenon of precious community assets having their grounds acquired by faceless corporates seeking to make a fast buck - at all sorts of levels of the game - is causing those within football increasing concern.

It is perhaps disappointing that the review did not argue even more strongly for supporter ownership of clubs, noting that 'supporter ownership is a legitimate model for many clubs' but not for all, and therefore not within the scope of the review's recommendations. Nonetheless, if the white paper to come in the summer does provide real change, this could be a key moment in the history of the beautiful game in England.

The Government will seek to implement all 10 of the key recommendations of the fan-led review into English football, setting up the possibility of a sea change in the governance of the national sport.


asset transfer, community ownership, co-operatives and mutuals, governance, regeneration, social business, social enterprise