The fan-led government review of football clubs, launched in April this year, has now agreed that measures must be put in place to protect club heritage, including measures to prevent sides from joining new competitions not affiliated to FIFA, UEFA and the FA.
In delving into cultural, civic and community roles of football teams, the review underlined that there should be ‘additional protection for key items of heritage’.
Mapping out future steps to ensure club heritage, it revealed a ‘Golden Share’ model that each club should engage with: “This should be held by a democratically run Community Benefit Society formed under the Cooperative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 for the benefit of the club’s supporters.
“The Golden Share would require the consent of the shareholder to certain actions by the club – specifically selling the club stadium or permanently relocating it outside of its local area, joining a new competition not affiliated to FIFA, UEFA and the FA, or changing the club badge, the club name or first team home colours.”
The State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) explained it is ‘confident’ in this introduction, acknowledging that several clubs stated that they would be comfortable with the proposal, likely influenced by a previous successful operation of this model at Brentford FC.
In a bid to improve governance, ownership and financial sustainability and build upon the strengths and benefits of the game, the final report underlines further future recommendations for clubs and consists of around 100 hours of engagement with Supporters’ Trusts, fan groups, women’s football representatives, football authorities, club owners, players representatives and underrepresented interest groups, along with a survey of 20,000 fans.
Nadine Dorries, Secretary of State for DCMS, commented: “All football stakeholders have had the chance to contribute to the Review and I am very grateful to all those who have given evidence. Most importantly, fan voices were at the heart of the Review and will remain at the heart of the government’s thinking in responding to the recommendations.
“I would like to place on record my thanks and appreciation to the Honourable Member for Chatham and Aylesford for her tireless work and for delivering her recommendations so swiftly. She has done a superb job in bringing together such a range of views from across football with such credibility and consideration.”
Furthemore, the report is said to display the financial problems being caused by ‘incentives within the game and reckless decision making’ by some clubs and owners – which is said to harm the game and its future.
Labelled ‘strategic’, some of the guidance that the organisation is now pushing for includes; Creating a new Independent Regulator to ensure sustainability who should observe financial regulations, ensuring only qualified directors can run virtual assets, enhancing a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, fair distributions particularly in the Premier League, and treating women’s football equally.
“The Review demonstrates that there are fundamental issues with our national sport, and that this merits radical reform. Fans across the country want and deserve that reform,” added Dorries.
“We are at a turning point for football in this country. The Review is a detailed and worthy piece of work that will require a substantive response and plan of action from across government.”
In May this year, it was announced that ex-England manager Roy Hodgson would join the panel following his departure from Crystal Palace as its 10th and final member.
He is also joined by Sports Secretary, Tracey Crouch, Everton Chief Executive Professor Denise Barrett-Baxendale, Cambridge United Director Godric Smith and James Tedford, former Southport FC secretary.
As it is emphasised that the sport should prioritise having a successful regulator, the government now looks to determine the most effective way to deliver this following the review.