English football will have an independent governing body at the next election, Dorries pledges

English football will have an independent governing body with an enhanced “fit test” for owners and directors ahead of the next general election as planned by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries. suggest.

Dorries’ plan, outlined in a letter to Boris Johnson released by the FT, would bring the government into conflict with the Football Association, the game’s domestic governing body and the Premier League over how tune into the country’s most popular sport.

The FA prefers supervisors to sit in its structure, according to a person close to the governing body, while the Premier League has opposed full statutory regulation.

However, the Football Association, which runs the divisions below the highest level, favors an agency outside the FA, according to a person close to the EFL.

Dorries wants the regulator to be completely independent, according to her aides, although that could change in the future if the FA can prove it has fundamentally reformed itself. But the plan raises the prospect of heated debate about the future of the sport.

The culture minister argued that secession broke European Super League – a scheme hatched last year with the backing of England’s top “six big clubs” – and recent financial troubles at clubs like Bury and Derby County show the need must have a new set of frames.

The sanctions against Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich have also drawn attention to the need for closer scrutiny of an individual’s suitability to own a club, although it is thought a new governing body won’t stop. a corporation led by Saudi Arabia took over Newcastle United last year.

Dorries accepts that she will be criticized by some for delaying the legislation until after the next session of parliament, which may leave opponents hopeful that they can use the delay to ease the challenges. plan.

Tory MP Tracey Crouch, supervisor a fan-led reviews on football governance last year, argued that there was a case for an “urgent” need for legislation in the next parliament session.

But Dorries thinks the new plan for the sport requires more complete consultation; The white paper is scheduled for the summer, with the intention of pushing the legislation forward next year in the final session before the 2024 general election.

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“Some will express concern that this is the government’s way of putting football regulation in the long-term,” Dorries said in the letter to Johnson. “I believe it is the opposite; The government is committed to implementing unprecedented regulations to protect fans, while preserving the economic value of our national game. ”

Dorries said that in order to prove the “opponents” wrong, the government should commit to creating the regulator during next month’s Queen’s Speech and outline a roadmap that promises legislation in time to The governing body is present before the 2024 election.

The Minister’s allies admit their plan would put the government on a “collision course” with English football’s existing bodies, but Dorries argued a new governing body would help create a “consistent and sustainable framework”, with less financial crisis risk in the game.

The Premier League, FA and EFL declined to comment, but last month Helen MacNamara, director of policy and corporate affairs at the Premier League, told the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee that the league was This match went against the full provisions of the law.

She defended the FA’s role, recognizing the need for “more independent oversight”. “We support the FA; we think there is a natural reason why the FA would be an effective regulator. “

Mark Bullingham, the FA chief executive, said at the same meeting that the agency was making the governance changes recommended during Crouch’s review to allow it to take on additional responsibilities, including the appointment of independent non-executive directors.

“Whatever we did would be a whole new agency that would be placed independently within the FA and would demand that independence,” he said.

The Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport said: “Football is nothing without its fans, who are the foundation of clubs across the country and that is why they are. I make sure they have an important role to play in assessing football governance, overseen by Tracey Crouch, MP.

“We are committed to introducing an independent governing body of English football and strengthening our checks on existing owners and directors.

“Protecting the club’s heritage, improving corporate governance and greater financial sustainability throughout the football pyramid will all be at the heart of our response to the human-led review.” leading fans.”

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