Labor pledges to create UK football regulator, with an eye on business

Labor pledges to create UK football regulator, with an eye on business

Labor has pledged to create a football regulator and said it could review proposals to impose a transfer tax on Premier League football clubs and regulate ticket sales if it wins next month's general election.
The party is to introduce a Football Governance Bill that will set up checks and balances to ensure the financial stability of football clubs and protect fans, Labor leader Keir Starmer told reporters at the party's headquarters in the south-west of England, this Monday (17).

Labour's shadow secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport Thangam Debonaire said the main aim of the scheme was to prevent the formation of “super leagues” by merging the country's biggest clubs. Bloomberg The opposition is also considering controlling ticket prices. He said proposals to introduce a tax on player transfers by major clubs, redistributing resources to grassroots football, were also being considered.

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Labour's proposals are important as the party holds a huge lead in the polls with less than three weeks to go before the July 4 general election, meaning Starmer could become Britain's next prime minister. The ruling Conservatives introduced a bill in parliament to establish a football regulator in March, but its approval was stalled when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak surprised much of Westminster last month by calling an early election.

Labour's version of the bill would “go back to first principles”, Debonaire told reporters in Bristol. “By giving fans more influence over how their clubs are run and strengthening the checks on owners and managers, we will make England the best place in the world to be a football fan.”

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“I'm going to look at everything because ticket sales represent a good chunk of revenue,” Debonaire said when asked about regulating ticket sales. “But there are many ways clubs can generate income. A club like this [o Bristol] – Not the richest club in the world, prefers to invest in infrastructure. Ensure that future-proof facilities are in place. It takes money, so I look at anything that helps increase financial stability.

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Although the Conservatives had already promised to overhaul football governance in their 2019 election manifesto, the need for strengthened regulation came to the fore in 2021 when six English clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur – joined. Clubs from continental Europe to announce formation of new European Super League. They all backed down within days of public outcry and government threats to crack down.

“There will be no disruption to the Super League style of English football under my watch,” Starmer – an Arsenal fan – said in a statement. “We are fortunate to have historic football clubs at the heart of communities across our country. But all too often, clubs and fans are misled by the 'Wild West' within the football pyramid. That is why we will legislate for the long-awaited independent regulation of football.

Conservative MP Tracey Crouch has led a review of football's governance, proposing the creation of a regulator by late 2021. Although his report included proposals for a transfer fee – which he said could raise £160 million ($203 million) a year to be redistributed to lower league clubs – the idea was not included in the government's bill.

© 2024 Bloomberg LP.

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