Government opposes publication of White Paper football

The publication of a government white paper expected to support the establishment of an independent football watchdog has been postponed.

The PA news agency understands that the decision is not due to late changes to the paper, but is instead related to the volume of other government affairs and a desire to ensure it is not overshadowed as Downing Street faces widespread strikes in the public sector.

The earliest publication of the white paper is the week commencing February 20.

Tracey Crouch chaired the fan-led evaluation of football governance, which published its recommendations in November 2021

Tracey Crouch chaired the fan-led evaluation of football governance, which published its recommendations in November 2021 (DCMS Handout/PA)

The white paper is the government’s official response to the recommendations of the fan-led review, which was published in November 2021.

The fan-led review was part of the Conservative Party’s manifesto for the 2019 general election, but was commissioned earlier than originally planned in the wake of the April 2021 Super League scandal, which saw Conservative MP and former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch announced the review chair of the panel.

The publication of the White Paper was initially scheduled for last summer, but political turmoil at the top of the Conservative Party led to lengthy delays.

Details of the government’s blueprint appeared in The Sun last week and were due to be officially published on Wednesday.

The Sun reported that the white paper proposed giving the regulator backstop powers to impose a financial sharing scheme on the Premier League, EFL and the Football Association if they cannot agree.

The three organizations meet regularly to discuss the so-called ‘New Deal For Football’, which includes how money is distributed from the Premier League to the rest of the pyramid.

There was no mention of a transfer levy in the Sun’s report on the blueprint. Crouch and her review panel had recommended a levy of up to 10 per cent on Premier League transfer deals to further support the pyramid, which could raise an estimated £160 million a year.

The Sun reported that the regulator would operate a licensing system designed to ensure clubs are run sustainably and for the benefit of their supporters and the communities they serve.

It will do this, The Sun reported, by introducing new tests designed to more thoroughly vet owners, ensure minimum standards for fan involvement in key decisions related to a club’s cultural heritage and, crucially, educate teams. requiring them to only participate in competitions approved by the regulatory body – effectively preventing the possibility of a future breakaway competition.

Labor Shadow Culture secretary Lucy Powell criticized the delay in publication.

“We urgently need a good football arrangement. Bury has already collapsed. Many other clubs have been pushed to the brink,” she said.

“Labour supports the fan-led rating recommendations, which must be fully implemented. The government has waited more than a year since its publication to decide to adopt the recommendations.

“While we know the football white paper exists and journalists have seen a leaked copy, the government has again delayed publication. The Tories have given up governing.”

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