During his first King’s Speech, King Charles revealed the blueprint that will lead to the introduction of a landmark independent regulator for English football.
The Football Governance Bill will be introduced to “safeguard the future of football clubs for the benefit of communities and fans” stated the King, following the announcement last February to appoint an independent regulator following a fan-led review.
The bill aims to significantly strengthen the current owners’ and directors’ test, in order to safeguard the game and prevent English clubs from joining any other breakaway leagues – after the failed 2021 Super League announcement.
Further strengthening protection of the domestic game, there will also be an order for owners and directors to seek approval for any potential relocation of home stadiums.
There is also an additional focus on preventing a number of clubs from falling into administration and collapsing due to poor and insufficient funding from owners, which was the case for Bury FC’s demise in 2019.
The potential of a new owners’ and directors’ test may also impact those at the top of the Premier League, as human rights organisations, such as Amnesty International have called on the league to address issues stemming from the Saudi Public Investment Fund’s acquisition of Newcastle United in 2021.
Niall Couper, Chief Executive of Fair Game, hailed the announcement as an ‘historic moment for football’.
He said: “Today’s announcement is a historic moment for football and represents a real chance to end the cycle of overspending and mismanagement that has plagued our national game and threatened the very existence of our clubs.
“Reckless spending, disconnect between clubs and their communities, and lip service to equality standards must be consigned to the rubbish bin of history. This transformation can only be achieved if the regulator has the teeth and resources to deliver.”
The fan-led review approval by the government last February granted an independent regulator to oversee English football in order to “ensure the long-term sustainability of the English football pyramid”.
The white paper that entailed this involved ensuring that a licensing system was set in place for all clubs residing in the Premier League, Championship, League 1, League 2 and National Conference to avoid any future collapses.
Early indications of when the independent regulator will be introduced is still unknown, although Prime Minister Rishi Sunak intends to launch it before the next election, which must be held before January 2025.