Luke Pollard MP Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport
As the football white paper is published this week, Labour is calling on the Government to bring in a regulator as quickly as possible.
Labour has welcomed the white paper’s publication, but it is already long overdue. In the 15 months it’s taken the Government to re-word the fan-led review, Derby County nearly went under, Oldham Athletic was relegated, Chelsea changed hands and Manchester United, Newcastle, Liverpool and Bournemouth were all put up for sale. The Premier League and EFL still haven’t reached a deal on finances. And now a European Super League 2.0 is back on the table.
Labour is warning that there are clubs already on the brink, that can’t wait until the 2024/25 season to get a fair settlement.
Fair financial distribution must be sorted before a regulator comes into force. The failure of the Premier League and EFL to reach an agreement on football finances means lower league clubs will miss out on £365m this season, and clubs in the North and Midlands have already lost out on £200m. This includes Plymouth Argyle which will miss out on £2.7 million.
Labour has long called for football to be put on a stable footing, with an independent regulator and proper say for fans.
The fan-led review of football governance was published over a year ago. It made a suite of recommendations for better governance in football, including stronger owners and directors tests, fairer distribution of funding down the football pyramid, and a seat at the table for fans, through a shadow board and ‘golden share’ in significant club decisions. Labour called for the recommendations to be implemented in full.
Football clubs are at the heart of communities. They’re much more than businesses, but great sources of pride in our towns.
I welcome the publication of the football white paper, but it’s long overdue. Delays have already cost lower league clubs like Plymouth, Torquay and Exeter millions of pounds this season. Many clubs are on the brink, and can’t wait another two years for a fair deal.
We can’t have any more dithering – the Government should bring in the legislation needed to establish a proper regulator urgently.