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The Fan Led Review of Football Governance


ExiledAjax
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It's a sexy old title isn't it? This review was published yesterday and sets out the hopes and dreams of the review panel. Born out of the triple crisis of Bury's collapse, the impact of Covid-19, and the threatened European Super League, the Review identified a number of structural challenges, and proposes some solutions - some of them pretty radical. It's a 162 page document. If you're interested and have the time then the document is available in full here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fan-led-review-of-football-governance-securing-the-games-future

A quick google of "fan led review football" will also bring you a number of articles discussing it. It will also no doubt be discussed on many podcasts in the near future, including the Price of Football podcast with Kieran Maguire, as he was involved in the review.

What I am going to try and do here is concisely summarise how the Review's proposals might affect Bristol City. This will not be a short post, but it will hopefully be interesting. It will involve speculation, so those of you that rely on the OS are pre-warned. Personally I believe in and agree with nearly everything the Review says, it does not contain all of the answers, and it freely admits that the solutions it poses will need to evolve as time passes. However, if most of the proposed ideas are implemented, we will see a football industry that is far better governed, and ultimately acts more for the fans than it currently does.

1. The Regulator

To ensure the long-term sustainability of football, the Review recommends that the Government should create a new independent regulator for English football (IREF). It's greatest inspiration would be the Financial Conduct Authority, and it would operate only to regulate 'back-room' stuff. Most importantly this would be financial sustainability, corporate governance, and the protection of football heritage. It would absolutely not interfere in the commercial decisions of clubs (eg ticket prices and how much a pint costs at AG), sporting matters such as the Laws of the Game, or items such as VAR or how many subs happen. This diagram indicates what would be covered, and the size of the circle indicates the priority of each aspect.

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Bristol City (likely Bristol City Holdings Limited) would need to apply to IREF for a licence. The Club would be granted that licence subject to complying with certain conditions and the Club would need to confirm annually that they are compliant with their obligations. These obligations would cover the things that IREF is supervising - financial sustainability, corporate governance, etc. A breach of the obligations would lead to investigation by IREF, and possibly sanctions such as points deductions, transfer bans, fines, and in the most extreme circumstances owners could be forced to pass stewardship/control of certain decisions within a club, to an IREF appointed administrator.

The licence fee would be based on a sliding scale of the value of revenue received by a club from broadcasting. Each club in the same division will pay the same fee, with clubs in leagues that earn more broadcast revenue paying a higher proportion of the running costs of IREF. Based on our 2020 account our broadcasting revenue was £730,000, plus £3.38m from the Football League Pool (which I think is our cut of EFL broadcasting revenue) @Mr Popodopolous can you confirm? So we'd be paying some % of about £4m. The Review doesn't indicate exactly what that % might be. It's clever though as it means that if the Leagues or Clubs make more money from broadcasting, so does IREF.

2. Financial Regulation

Oversight of financial regulation would move from the Leagues to IREF. Current P&S rules would be scrapped in favour of a new system of capital and liquidity requirements similar to that used by the FCA and the financial resilience supervision model also operated by the FCA (similar rules are used by the Prudential Regulation Authority). BCFC and Steve Lansdown would need to prove that we have adequate finances and processes in place to keep operating. The basic test would be do have adequate financial and non-financial resources (e.g. cash in the business and processes or risk planning) in order to meet committed spending and foreseeable risks.

Owner support is questioned in detail. We rely heavily on Lansdown (via Pula Sport) injecting funds into the Club on pretty much an annual basis. The Review considers that IREF should have a proportionality mechanism when assessing owner injections. In outline, this would involve a limit being set on the level of owner subsidy based on the size of a club’s existing finances (which would grow over time if the investment was successful and the club grew). So the amount that Lansdown could inject would be dependent on BCFC's own plans and state of our existing finances. It would be flexible, and continually assessed.

On Parachute Payments and other distributions the Review says that Football should seek to resolve distribution issues itself. If no agreement can be reached by the end of 2021, the Premier League and EFL should commission research to find a solution, with backstop powers for IREF if a solution is still not found. For us this means that hopefully we would see an end to parachute payments as they are now, and the introduction of a fairer distribution model.

Probably the most radical suggestion of all is the "Solidarity Transfer Levy" aka a transfer tax to be imposed on transfers by Premier League clubs on any player transfer within the Premier League or any international transfer. This would work in a similar way to stamp duty and revenues would be distributed among the pyramid. The Review notes that FIFA is already looking at this kind of levy and is suggesting a 6% levy. The Review explores both a 5% and 10% levy and considers this fair and reasonable.

The Review argues that by excluding EFL players from the levy, they become more attractive, shifting money back to the EFL. This would encourage domestic player development. In addition, EFL clubs are excluded from the levy on transfers they make, which is an indirect form of support. All considered, this proposal would be a substantial source of support to EFL clubs. I'm slightly skeptical here as I think we might see Premier League clubs become even more predatory on the EFL than they already are. Yes Champ clubs like us might get more money, or be able to sell more players to the Prem...but then we don't have those players for our own teams. I think this impact needs to be considered very carefully as it has the potential to widen the gap between the Champ and Prem, rather than close it.

3. Owners and Directors and Corporate Governance

A big one, especially for our club where the UBO's son is Chairman of the board, and a director of every group company. The Review suggests replacing all existing tests and bringing this arm under it's remit. There would be separate tests for Owners and Directors. Note that 'Directors' would mean not just the legal directors registered at Companies House and in the stat books, but also "any key individuals at the club, who are not on the Board, but who are discharging executive management functions, or advisory roles similar to those of an executive manager or director"...does that mean the Manager/Head Coach, or the Head of Recruitment/Scouting...I think it could do.

The Owners' test would apply to anyone holding more than 25% voting rights (basically lifted straight from existing PSC rules). It would apply to both Steve and Maggie Lansdown. The Owners' test would cover integrity, financial resources, conflicts of interest, and financial plans for the Club. Not much is concrete right now, but the Review does specifically say that the owner should be required to evidence funds for club’s financial plans for at least a three year period. Owners' credentials would be reviewed every three years.

The Directors' test would asses whether they possess the necessary skills and experience to be able to suitably contribute to, and manage, the affairs of the club on a day-to-day basis. 

Satisfying these tests will be a condition of the Club's IREF licence.

There would be a new Code for Football Governance based on the Sports Governance Code should be introduced for licenced clubs, with compliance being a licensing condition. Compliance would be annually reviewed. The code would be in 3 tiers, City, as a Championship club, and we would be held to the same standard as Premier League clubs. We would be required to appoint independent non-exec directors in order to ensure that 30%of the board is comprised of such. Right now the board of Bristol City Holdings Limited is 3 people (Jon Lansdown, Gavin Marshall and Doug Harman). If one of those is not an independent non-exec director then he would either need to be replaced, or we would need to appoint two independent non-exec directors.

4. Supporter Engagement/Heritage Protection

A shadow board to be consulted by the Club on all material ‘non football/off pitch’ business and financial matters. Having a shadow board would be a condition of the licence. I'd expect that this would be something for the SC&T to lead on.

The 'Golden Share'. The Review recommends that every club be forced to issue a 'Golden Share' to a suitable supporter entity. In our case this would almost certainly be the SC&T. This share would be a proper share, with its rights set out in the Articles of Association of the relevant company. It would have veto rights over certain matters such as sale of club stadium (including the grant of security over a club stadium); re-location of club outside of the local area (excluding temporary relocation as part of an actual (i.e. not just planned or hoped for) development of an existing stadium e.g. Tottenham’s relocation to Wembley); the club joining a new competition that is not affiliated to FIFA, UEFA and the FA and/or leaving a competition in which it currently plays. This would mean that a future European Super League would not be possible without fan consent; club badge; first team home shirt club colours; and club name (i.e the team playing name rather than the name of the legal entity owning the club). That's as a minimum btw.

For example, if BCFC wanted to change our badge again they would have to notify the SC&T (assuming it is they that hold the Golden Share). The SC&T would then have 45 days to either consent to or veto the decision. The SC&T would basically be expected to conduct a referendum of a) it's Members, b) ST holders, and c) supporters who have attended at least one home match in the previous season. That's a big ask imo, especially identifying b) and c). The Club would need to be involved there, and if the decision is contentious they may seek to frustrate things. A tricky point imo.

IREF would have the power to arbitrate on any disputes related to the Golden Share.

There are further proposals to protect the land and stadia of lower league clubs. This includes a review of planning laws, and suggestions that there be requirements on developers of an existing football stadium to provide new equivalent or better facilities in the same local area before any development work is started.

Other Items

Alcohol - the Review suggest trialing alcohol sale reform in League 2 and the National League. There could be a series of small scale, limited, pilots of the sale of alcohol in sight of the pitch, at matches between clubs in the National League and League Two. The Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc.) Act 1985 will be reviewed.

Agents - ultimately the Review does not seek to allow IREF to regulate agents. It simply suggests that the Government should explore ways to support the regulation of football agents operating in English football by working with relevant authorities including FIFA.

 

God, that's a big post. If you've read it all and have some thoughts then please say. I haven't covered everything but I think I've given a decent summary of the recommendations. Of course, everything carries the caveat that this is just a review that has made recommendations. Nothing above is set in stone, everything is up for negotiation and change. However, I think that Couch and the Gov will push this quite hard and we might start to see draft legislation as early as January 2022.

Ultimately I think the biggest impacts on us would be on our board make-up and owners...would the Lansdown's think all this regulation is too much hassle and cash in? We will also be affected by any new finance regulations, and it looks to me like there is incentive to get us in the best shape possible in anticipation of regulation based upon current assets and finances. Also, as I say, we could be affected by chances to transfer rules. Perhaps more money, but a higher churn of players.

Edited by ExiledAjax
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Had a quick look @ExiledAjax

Great summary btw. Actually unsure what the Football League Pool is exactly but Solidarity Payments of £4.5m also seems to be TV revenue related so it's either:

  1. Broadcasting Revenue- £728,700
  2. Solidarity Payment- £4,500,000
  3. Football League Pool- £3,383,445

Or

  1. Broadcasting Revenue- £728,700
  2. Solidarity Payment- £4,500,000

Obviously the Solidarity Payment is for all those clubs who don't get Parachute Payments- but PL distribution, Football League Pool is I assume TV related but not certain.

Edited by Mr Popodopolous
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27 minutes ago, Mr Popodopolous said:

Had a quick look @ExiledAjax

Great summary btw. Actually unsure what the Football League Pool is exactly but Solidarity Payments of £4.5m also seems to be TV revenue related so it's either:

  1. Broadcasting Revenue- £728,700
  2. Solidarity Payment- £4,500,000
  3. Football League Pool- £3,383,445

Or

  1. Broadcasting Revenue- £728,700
  2. Solidarity Payment- £4,500,000

Obviously the Solidarity Payment is for all those clubs who don't get Parachute Payments- but PL distribution, Football League Pool is I assume TV related but not certain.

Cheers. 700k just seemed very low to be the total of all our broadcasting revenue. Prem Clubs get north of £100m and surely Champ clubs aren't getting <1% of that? I guessed that maybe what was listed as 'broadcasting revenue' was our income from RobinsTV (boosted by Covid). I'm sure any Regulator will create a new definition of exactly what they mean by 'broadcast revenue', especially if that is what determines that regulator's funding.

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1 hour ago, ExiledAjax said:

Cheers. 700k just seemed very low to be the total of all our broadcasting revenue. Prem Clubs get north of £100m and surely Champ clubs aren't getting <1% of that? I guessed that maybe what was listed as 'broadcasting revenue' was our income from RobinsTV (boosted by Covid). I'm sure any Regulator will create a new definition of exactly what they mean by 'broadcast revenue', especially if that is what determines that regulator's funding.

Maybe, yeah! Good point, hadn't thought of that...there should be a clear boost in 2020/21 when those accounts are out!

Yep under 1% it seems...can't actually find many other clubs that refer to it as "Football League Pool"- could be a mix of TV and other Football League, Central Distribution type thing.

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An excellent piece of work but the Premier League has already signalled some opposition and the government has said it won't commit to implementing all the recommendations.

So be prepared for it to be watered down to suit the rich and powerful clubs.

I reckon we will get a regulator but how powerful it will be remains to be seen. The performance of regulators in other areas doesn't inspire confidence. After all we have OFWAT but water companies continue to pump raw sewage into our waters with impunity.

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It’s a good idea, but agree with the PL clubs why give more money to lower league clubs if they are just going to spend it and still break FFP/p&s rules. 
 

Champ down needs some kind of body to watch over clubs and ensure they don’t go silly on the spending. 3 year average is good but if you gamble one year (Derby) it creates a financial mess. Maybe just have the rules for per season so easier to administer.

Edited by wayne allisons tongues
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26 minutes ago, wayne allisons tongues said:

It’s a good idea, but agree with the PL clubs why give more money to lower league clubs if they are just going to spend it and still break FFP/p&s rules. 
 

Champ down needs some kind of body to watch over clubs and ensure they don’t go silly on the spending. 3 year average is good but if you gamble one year (Derby) it creates a financial mess. Maybe just have the rules for per season so easier to administer.

This is what the IREF would do. IREF would cover the 4 professional leagues, is the National League. All of those clubs would have to apply for a licence, abide by those licensing requirements, and be subject to IREF sanctions and penalties of the failed.

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5 minutes ago, ExiledAjax said:

This is what the IREF would do. IREF would cover the 4 professional leagues, is the National League. All of those clubs would have to apply for a licence, abide by those licensing requirements, and be subject to IREF sanctions and penalties of the failed.

Isn’t that a problem, I believe if you want to be part of FIFA you can’t have government etc. interfering with your FA. How much control/power would this body have to effect clubs and not be classed as dealing with the various FA. 
 

The whole idea is good and I want it brought in ASAP but unless clubs stick to the rules, they don’t at the moment. Penalties are dealt with immediately then people/clubs will keep bending the rules.

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46 minutes ago, chinapig said:

An excellent piece of work but the Premier League has already signalled some opposition and the government has said it won't commit to implementing all the recommendations.

So be prepared for it to be watered down to suit the rich and powerful clubs.

I reckon we will get a regulator but how powerful it will be remains to be seen. The performance of regulators in other areas doesn't inspire confidence. After all we have OFWAT but water companies continue to pump raw sewage into our waters with impunity.

Agreed. The Review sets out the starting point. It will not be quite like this in the end. The government supports it "in principle" and "will now work at pace to determine the most effective way to deliver an independent regulator, and any powers that might be needed", the Gov will deliver a full response in 2022.

As for effectiveness of regulators generally, the FCA seems to be the main inspiration, that is actually a pretty effective regulator that has powers and uses them. Likewise I worked for the General Medical Council, where we used to strike off about 70 doctors a year, plus putting another 500 or so on supervision orders.

Any regulator is only as good as the rules and powers it has, and the people that work there. My view is that IREF needs to employ the best it can from the get go.

It won't be an instant fix, however, if established soon then over the next decade I'd be hopeful of seeing some proper improvements.

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1 minute ago, wayne allisons tongues said:

Isn’t that a problem, I believe if you want to be part of FIFA you can’t have government etc. interfering with your FA. How much control/power would this body have to effect clubs and not be classed as dealing with the various FA. 
 

The whole idea is good and I want it brought in ASAP but unless clubs stick to the rules, they don’t at the moment. Penalties are dealt with immediately then people/clubs will keep bending the rules.

Not sure on the FIFA point, but IREF would not be a government body. In order to gain enforceable powers it would be established by statute, but like the FCA it would operate independently from government.

The Review also expressly says that it won't govern the FA or interfere on the day to day operation of the leagues. Nor would the IREF have powers to dictate Clubs' commercial activities.

It is purely aimed at regulating the corporate make up of clubs, their owners, and their spending in broad terms.

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30 minutes ago, ExiledAjax said:

Agreed. The Review sets out the starting point. It will not be quite like this in the end. The government supports it "in principle" and "will now work at pace to determine the most effective way to deliver an independent regulator, and any powers that might be needed", the Gov will deliver a full response in 2022.

As for effectiveness of regulators generally, the FCA seems to be the main inspiration, that is actually a pretty effective regulator that has powers and uses them. Likewise I worked for the General Medical Council, where we used to strike off about 70 doctors a year, plus putting another 500 or so on supervision orders.

Any regulator is only as good as the rules and powers it has, and the people that work there. My view is that IREF needs to employ the best it can from the get go.

It won't be an instant fix, however, if established soon then over the next decade I'd be hopeful of seeing some proper improvements.

How proactive is the FCA though? It seems to get plenty of criticism for failure to act. Like investigating Greensill Capital after the damage was done.

A regulator needs to be ahead of the curve not wait until a club has been screwed by its owner like Derby or Bury say. I suspect the Premier League clubs will not want anybody looking too closely at their finances.

Let's see if the government allows the regulator the powers it needs and whether that regulator is willing to use those powers without fear or favour.

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5 minutes ago, chinapig said:

How proactive is the FCA though? It seems to get plenty of criticism for failure to act. Like investigating Greensill Capital after the damage was done.

A regulator needs to be ahead of the curve not wait until a club has been screwed by its owner like Derby or Bury say. I suspect the Premier League clubs will not want anybody looking too closely at their finances.

Let's see if the government allows the regulator the powers it needs and whether that regulator is willing to use those powers without fear or favour.

Honestly, a regulator like the FCA gets pilloried for one high profile failing, whilst unsexy, dull work such as it's extensive work regarding mortgage reforms goes unmentioned. Regulators are not perfect, they tend to be operated by humans and humans are crap.

For me though something like IREF would be better than the hodge podge of rules and regulations we have now. The Review makes the point that something like P&S is currently enforced on the Clubs by the league...which is run by the Clubs. Football has had decades to get it's own house in order, and it has broadly failed to do so.

I am choosing to be optimistic at the moment is all!

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I've read more of the report today- like the look of some of the proposals but the sanctioning bits sound a bit wooly. Although promising...

Derby fans- to take an example- who have clamoured for an Independent Regulator during their EFL saga should take note...the bit about Independent Investigations sounds a bit like Independent Disciplinary Commissions- you need some fixed penalties in addition. Eg When called upon to submit accounts for the EFL to inspect, they must be produced- within an acceptable timeframe, otherwise it's an automatic points deduction for that offence alone- two years in a row would be an aggravated breach which could e.g. double the penalty. Something concrete like that would strongly encourage correct conduct. That would be separate to any punishments relating to what the accounts themselves might contain. Year 1- I dunno 5 points, do it again the next year and 5 becomes 10, stupid enough to do it for a 3rd year and 10 becomes 20 and so on...

Back on topic...I like parts of this.

image.png.9e782574bcab47a7528924a68d12b62a.png

That's promising although some specific detailed obligations as part of it- ie my example of automatic points deductions for breach of accounting requirements- could be incorporated.

It's useful in part- was a bit like UEFA FFP regs in early years. Working with, some level of carrot as opposed to instant brandishing of a big stick.

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This builds on some of the original bits in P&S. Interesting that it says clubs who were wronged could be compensated- are Middlesbrough and Wycombe legal cases about that?

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Automatic relegation could be theoretically possible under this. Compelling/ordering a club to stop non-compliant behaviour is a small step beyond what we have now, IREF appointed administrators is a new one too. Reputational regulation is also a good idea- was amused when Derby claimed in one of their many hearings that their reputation and commercial interests were damaged by the saga and the IDC/LAP whoever it was pointed out that it was self-inflicted. Not in so many words of course.

Avoid penalising fans where possible but certainly not off the table- sporting sanctions for sporting advantages gained through breaches.

I think they should build on the current FFP regs and add some extra powers. Make crystal clear that fixed asset profits and alternative amortisation methods are not permitted, make it clear from the outset what can and cannot be done but evolving the framework where required.

This bit is also quite new.

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Either demand and if necessary force the owner to inject more cash to cover wages or force the club to lower the wage bill if required.

This could also be interesting...a proportionality mechanism (whatever that is). However wage inflation at Club X causing a knock-on effect with clubs Y and Z could be a matter for regulators.

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Up front is a good idea...although EFL regs are supposed to allow for this already, see Future Financial Information but something seems to have gone badly wrong there at some clubs between the regulation and the ability to implement.

I like the below- but we are supposed to have this right now to some extent. Only partially works though.

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Could file quarterly updates with the new regulator? At that point, if a club says "What you going to do about it" then yes transfer bans or forced to downsize there and then- unsure if just for solvency or could cover FFP as well- hopefully both. Instant deductions for e.g. breaches of the successor to FFP as well, as stated with quarterly updates there would be much less wiggle room. Automatic embargoes and deductions for non-compliance with accounting deadlines.

Gut feeling is that a stadium sale in order for a short-medium term FFP boost wouldn't have been permitted under it and their fans calling for a regulator now would have been moaning about restrictions on ambition. :)

On the other hand there would surely have been a drastically different distribution or at least different distribution of revenue which might have seen off these situations.

Edited by Mr Popodopolous
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1 hour ago, Mr Popodopolous said:

like the look of some of the proposals but the sanctioning bits sound a bit wooly.

I agree, but also this is the first Review. I don't think it was within the scope of the review to set out the full possible sanctions in the level of detail to which you have gone into. That will come later. Personally I think it's sensible to keep some things in the background.

Paras 2.42 - 2.46 are pretty clear that Clubs will face sanction for a breach of licence. I would hope that imposing such sanctions would be a quick process relative to what we have now. The nice thing about the licence system is that you can clearly set out the terms of the licence, and it takes a little less investigation to prove a breach. One of the things that came out of the Report to me was a desire to be more nimble and agile, and an intention that the Regulator would be able to act more quickly than the enforcers of the current rules.

The idea of real time monitoring is also good, and it goes some way to answering @chinapig's point about whether the Regulator would be proactive or reactive. I think again, if this is already in place, then what the Review would say is that by creating a Regulator it might actually happen.

I think generally one of the key things is that this possible Regulator would itself be accountable to Parliament. My understanding is that this would be a massive change in terms of providing an incentive for the rules and regulations to actually be enforced. Currently the pressure on a body like the EFL to enforce its own rules comes from other member clubs, fans, and the EFL itself. All of those parties have some bias, or some reason not to enforce. Maybe they do eventually do something, but it's often slow. IREF would be independent, and so those biases would be absent. So far as I know there is nothing like the following currently hanging over the entities that enforce the current rules.

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IREF would remain in place regardless of the make up of the government. The chair and board would be appointed by a panel of experts, itself separate from the Government. This is independent, accountable regulation.

The financial stuff is a huge topic, and a potential minefield. I think the Report does a good job of exploring the current problems, and proposing a solution. Note that the proportional system is recommended "on balance", I think Crouch et al know it isn't perfect, but see it as the best starting point. Again, the details will be thrashed out over the coming months. I think when considering the proposals you have to bear in mind the stated intended over-arching objective that the Report recommends the Regulator has. That is to ensure that "...English football is sustainable and competitive for the benefit of existing and future fans and the local communities football clubs serve." Every proposal should then be tested against that statement. You do make a good point though that a proportional system could potentially favour Clubs that already have large clout.

1 hour ago, Mr Popodopolous said:

Gut feeling is that a stadium sale in order for a short-medium term FFP boost wouldn't have been permitted under it and their fans calling for a regulator now would have been moaning about restrictions on ambition. :)

My understanding is that this kind of trick would be primarily prevented through the "Golden Share" system rather than the financial regulations. I hope that the entities intended to hold these 'Golden Shares' are provided with either funding for, or with direct access to, high level legal and accounting advice and counsel. If they are going to be fan groups such as the SC&T then bless them they will try their best but I could see some being railroaded by Clubs and Clubs' highly paid lawyers and financial advisors. The Golden Shareholders will need support from the Regulator at times.

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1 hour ago, Mr Popodopolous said:

I think they should build on the current FFP regs and add some extra powers. Make crystal clear that fixed asset profits and alternative amortisation methods are not permitted, make it clear from the outset what can and cannot be done but evolving the framework where required.

Assume this would be built into the licensing obligations. It would make sense, and follow other regulators, that Clubs would have to follow strict, and specific, accounting frameworks as a term of their licence.

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The devil as always will be in the detail.

For example how can a regulatory body be both independent and accountable to parliament, and how will that fit with the FIFA and UEFA statutes and regulations, in particular the requirements in the FIFA statues: 

  • 14 (i) to manage their affairs independently and ensure that their own affairs are not influenced by any third parties in accordance with art. 19 of these Statutes
  • 20 (2) Every member association shall ensure that its affiliated clubs can take all decisions on any matters regarding membership independently of any external body

FIFA-Statutes-2021.pdf

especially where a Licence issued by an outside body is required to be a member of the EFL

As to any one saying that the principles of supervision operated by the FCA and the following sentence "At its core, this is a relatively simple system." belong together is clearly living in LaLaLand. 

 

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18 minutes ago, Hxj said:

For example how can a regulatory body be both independent and accountable to parliament, and how will that fit with the FIFA and UEFA statutes and regulations, in particular the requirements in the FIFA statues: 

It's well established that a regulatory body can be both independent and accountable to parliament, it is how most regulators operate. Using the FCA as the example, in its current guise it's establishment and powers are granted by Parliament under FSMA, which also sets out its duties. It then reports to the Treasury on it's discharge of those duties, but the Treasury doesn't write the regulations that the FCA enforces. The various professional regulators such as the General Medical Council and Solicitor's Regulation Authority are established in a similar way.

Someone has to watch the watchers, and it makes sense that this someone is the democratically elected body of the country, the body from which the powers of the regulator are derived. That doesn't preclude the regulator being independent.

As to the FIFA point. Admittedly I am not expert in this, and the Report doesn't address this. If it's a serious potential problem then it may well form part of the FA/EFL/Prem's response to the proposals. The Government may well respond by saying that FIFA may think that it's Statutes carry the same weight as an Act of Parliament, but they'd be sorely misled on that point. Without meaning to cause offence to you, I'd be surprised if you are the first person to mention potential incompatibility with existing FIFA/UEFA rules. I guess we have to wait and see if this gets addressed in future.

23 minutes ago, Hxj said:

As to any one saying that the principles of supervision operated by the FCA and the following sentence "At its core, this is a relatively simple system." belong together is clearly living in LaLaLand. 

This is fair, it's far from simple and involves a litany of other codes, laws and regulations. 

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15 hours ago, ExiledAjax said:

It's well established that a regulatory body can be both independent and accountable to parliament, it is how most regulators operate.

I don't dispute that - and maybe my original comment was poorly worded - I would also suggest that the regulator is supposed to be independent from the persons (in the widest possible sense) it is regulating, not parliament - hence the reference to the FIFA statutes and in particular the licensing requirement. 

I would never suggest that anything I put on here is original - I thank that the debate has been had elsewhere on the difference between research and plagiarism.

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Ever since this report was published I've been listening to one Premier League chairman after another come on the Radio to explain why this report is a bad idea which to my mind means that the vast majority of the report is a very good idea and should be implemented as soon as possible.

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3 minutes ago, Midlands Robin said:

Ever since this report was published I've been listening to one Premier League chairman after another come on the Radio to explain why this report is a bad idea which to my mind means that the vast majority of the report is a very good idea and should be implemented as soon as possible.

Couldn't agree more. The below table might explain why the Premier League doesn't want much of this implemented.

image.png.e1babb108a9d2e4607c9759347fac391.png

9 hours ago, Never to the dark side said:

and my request is simple,Bristol City should not have to travel more than 120 miles for midweek games when the fixtures are first published

Unfortunately, away travel is not something that the repot has considered, nor would it be within the remit of the proposed Regulator.

4 hours ago, Hxj said:

I don't dispute that - and maybe my original comment was poorly worded - I would also suggest that the regulator is supposed to be independent from the persons (in the widest possible sense) it is regulating, not parliament - hence the reference to the FIFA statutes and in particular the licensing requirement. 

I would never suggest that anything I put on here is original - I thank that the debate has been had elsewhere on the difference between research and plagiarism.

So my understanding is that the regulator is intended to be totally independent from the Clubs and the Leagues. In other words no representative, official, or employee of any Club or League would be involved. That's different to now, where you have Club directors on the board of the the EFL for example, and that is the same body that enforces things like P&S. The Report highlights this as an issue, citing the example of the EFL’s corporate governance reforms. The EFL instructed a leading sports QC to recommend improvements to its governance but did not adopt the recommendations in full with member clubs rejecting fully independent EFL board membership in favour of retaining club appointed directors.

This is how the report defined the independence point:

image.png.f02f8f95782b2f6899f1b7f60b8e7a00.png

Re the FIFA/UEFA point that you made. sorry, I wasn't accusing you of plagiarism. I was more trying to make the point that I expect this possible conflict has been discussed already by the Review Panel members. As it is not mentioned I the report, I can only assume it wasn't deemed to be a problem. Of course, it is possible that it has not been considered, I which case I expect someone - possibly FIFA themselves - to mention it in response to the report. Again, I am unaware of any such response so far, and again this is suggestive to me that it is not an issue.

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For anyone who might appreciate it, here is a link to a couple clips discussing the recommendations of the review:

The first part of a two part summary from the fab NTT20 guys. Useful to get your head around the proposals: 

 

Another link with Neville discussing it too. Useful to hear it from a current EFL owner. He estimated 95% of EFL clubs were behind the proposals when they met to discuss the recommendations yesterday: 

 

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33 minutes ago, CheddarReds said:

For anyone who might appreciate it, here is a link to a couple clips discussing the recommendations of the review:

The first part of a two part summary from the fab NTT20 guys. Useful to get your head around the proposals: 

 

Another link with Neville discussing it too. Useful to hear it from a current EFL owner. He estimated 95% of EFL clubs were behind the proposals when they met to discuss the recommendations yesterday: 

 

By sheer coincidence, I'm watching that video now. Gary mentions both us and the rovers around the 5 minute mark. 

Came on here to let you all know but as this thread is already open and @CheddarReds has linked to the video, may as well just reply as is. 

 

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Interesting from Neville, thanks @CheddarReds

Obviously I broadly agree with Neville on the overall need for an independent regulator to provide oversight, centralised control, and guidance to football. However, I disagree that there will be no unintended consequences from the proposals. I also disagree that the primary objective of a regulator is to maintain the competitiveness of the Premier League.

Whilst the proposals are broadly good, and Neville is right to praise the calibre of the panel that compiled the report, there are proposals that may produce other issues.

In particular the transfer levy could cased issues. The implication of any tax will always see those impacted seek to get around it. I fear that it would lead to EFL clubs being pruned of their best players at an even greater rate than they already are. It might mean more money for EFL clubs, but it would come with even greater pressure to find and develop cheap and academy players.

Also, whilst the Golden Share and shadow board are noble endeavours, I fear that not all clubs, especially in L2 and the NL, will have a large enough body of fans to provide sophisticated ownership of theat Goldeb Share, or membership of that shadow board. Therein you could easily see some of those becoming utterly powerless in the face of sophisticated, experience club owners backed by expensive lawyers and accountants. Unless the regulator provided powerful guidance to the Golden Share owners and shadow board members...it could all be for naught. However, you then get a question of the regulator "interfering" in club decisions, and so there is another problem to solve.

That's just two proposals that I think need much greater detail, and much more thought.

ps. It would have been nice if Carragher had read the report as well.

ps. Will listen to the NTT20 thing later.

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1 hour ago, chinapig said:

Yes, it's very easy to jump on these outlandish comparisons. I fear though that this is a distraction. I get that ultimately money makes it all go around, but the fact that the conversation is so focused on solidarity payments, transfer taxes, and reforms to the P&S rules, means that the very good recommendations around the general regulation of the governance of football are being ignored. I don't want to see the conversation focus on the financial side of things, and for that to then be thrown out, and with it goes all of the excellent suggestions around owners and directors tests, a general concept of licensing, and the equality and diversity stuff as well.

Of the 47 recommendations in the Report, only seven are directly aimed at financial matters such as solidarity payments, transfer taxes, and reforms to the P&S rules, and of those seven, two suggest that football as it is now should be given a chance to fix things now. Of the other five, only three (numbers 7, 8 and 40) actually suggest solid changes to the way things work, or outline actual powers that the regulator might have.

In focusing all of it's complaints on the danger of these few proposals "killing the golden goose" or turning the Football Pyramid into some Maoist or Marxist* utopia, the Premier League is killing all viable discussion around i) proper regulation and licensing of people like Purslow, Kinnear, Glazer, Levy et al, ii) proper fan involvement at a decision-making level, iii) equality, diversity and the like, iv) the protection of enormous, vital and irreplaceable community assets that for many people define their cultural identity, and v) player welfare reform  -which includes efforts to stop tragedies like the Barry Bennell case.

I worry that for all of Squires' satirical qualities, and egalitarian sympathies, his lampooning of these complaints magnifies them at the expense of the rest of what is a very good report.

*of course Mao and Marx were not exactly the same, but once you know the name of one communist you know them all right Purslow?

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Those outlandish comments are important because they reveal the (unsurprising) Premier League mindset. As a side effect it also confirms that it does not follow that because somebody is rich they must be intelligent.😉

This has to go through Parliament and the Premier League knows that these absurd arguments will find favour with plenty on the right of the Conservative Party (and maybe key people in Cabinet) and may serve to frustrate the aims of review.

The propaganda war has only just begun and I for one fear that the financial elements of the review will be neutered and we will be left with the usual promise of self regulation by jolly decent chaps that has failed the game until now or a regulator with inadequate powers and no teeth.

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9 minutes ago, chinapig said:

Those outlandish comments are important because they reveal the (unsurprising) Premier League mindset. As a side effect it also confirms that it does not follow that because somebody is rich they must be intelligent.😉

This has to go through Parliament and the Premier League knows that these absurd arguments will find favour with plenty on the right of the Conservative Party (and maybe key people in Cabinet) and may serve to frustrate the aims of review.

The propaganda war has only just begun and I for one fear that the financial elements of the review will be neutered and we will be left with the usual promise of self regulation by jolly decent chaps that has failed the game until now or a regulator with inadequate powers and no teeth.

Honestly, I think it would be a victory to get any kind of regulator in place. If at the point of establishment it only has oversight of corporate governance, owners and directors tests and the like, and financial matters stay with the Leagues and FA, then honestly I think that is a good starting point. The report effectively says this as well. Reading between the lines I think Crouch et al accept that it will be a hard push to get the Prem to give up control of the solidarity payments (and the rest of the money) at this point. This is why the report says:

"The Review considered carefully whether the Review or IREF itself should directly intervene on the question of financial distributions. On balance, it considered that it would be preferable that this should be left to the football authorities to resolve. However, given the poor history of the industry reaching agreement, the Regulator should be given backstop powers that can be used if no solution is found."

Football - ie the Prem and EFL - has a chance to keep financial oversight and distribution in their own ballpark, but the regulator would be watching, and waiting to take it over if their new solutions prove unsatisfactory. That is a compromise, and one that I think I as a fan can swallow at this point.

How can fans help to win the propaganda war? Fans can make it clear to their MPs - especially if they live in a Conservative constituency - that this is important to them, and that they will be considering the progress made on this matter when they next visit the ballot box. We can praise (to an extent) people like Neville, and can criticise Carragher for asking questions that are answered in the Report - I mean suggesting the regulator will be one person...ffs Jamie that's not helpful. It will mean arguing for things like Bristol Rovers, Cardiff, and Swindon getting more money, because doing so means that Bristol City should do as well. It means that if by some miracle Bristol City get promoted next season, we as a fanbase have to make it clear that we expect our own owner and CEO to back these proposals rather than attempt to close the door behind us. If we want an over-arching regulator then we as fans need to collaborate with fans from other clubs and show that 

 

On a separate note Crouch went in front of the DCMS for an hour today (starts here at 11:23:44 https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/352b1858-72ba-4af6-a6c3-62b09575cc40), and has given some more concrete info around the initial set up of the Regulator. Crouch is targeting the Queens Speech in the Spring of 2022 to begin the process of setting up the Regulator. She suggests a regulator of initially about 30-50 people and requiring initial funding of £5m-10m which would be provided initially by the Government before it’s year-to-year funding was paid from a percentage of the game’s broadcast revenues. She again suggests setting up a shadow regulator right now so that it can be up to speed when legislation comes into force.

The DCMS members (from all parties) do a good job of presenting some good questions (and some bad ones - the heavily suggestive questions from John Nicolson MP (SNP) around Newcastle's new owner and gay footballers I'm looking at you), and playing devil's advocate in order to test the report's proposals. There are some tough questions inspecting the effect of a regulator on existing arrangements such as loans and securities over grounds, and how that might relate to the Golden Share - ie which takes precedence, an existing registered charge over a stadium, or the vote of the golden shareholder. Crouch struggled here as a I don't think she is an expert in loans, financing, and shareholder rights - which she admitted to be fair. Crouch is under no illusion that the Premier League won't push back very, very hard on this. Apparently the transfer levy was suggested by a Premier League club - unnamed but there you go!

Seems like the idea would be that it's the Football Supporters Association who would support the supporters trusts in their ownership of any Golden Share. 

Just to say as well, that if anyone reading this post (and bless you for doing so) only ever sees Parliament and the Government through the lens of the soundbite nonsense from PMQs every Wednesday - this 1 hour video shows very well how Parliament can actually function, with people from across the parties, to intelligently discuss, with a little good-natured humour, serious issues that affect the country.

I note by the way that our CEO and owners have been silent on this entire matter. Maybe they are letting the EFL speak for them, but somethings can be done right now. A shadow board could be set up in a month and doesn't need a regulator to make it happen.

Finally, Crouch also makes the excellent point that only a few years ago Purslow was arguing for the Premier League to send more dollar down to the EFL...guess where Villa were at that time?

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