Review calls for independent regulator in English game as Newcastle United fans wait for takeover breakthrough

An independent regulator is required to protect the future of key aspects of the English game, the chair of the independent fan-led review has said.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 12:44 pm
St James's Park, home of Newcastle United.

It is a call that will be welcomed by Newcastle United supporters given the ongoing calls for transparency around the takeover saga which has dragged on for well over a year.

A date for the Premier League arbitration hearing is yet to be set but it was announced this week it wouldn’t be until early 2022.

That could help decide whether last summer’s proposed £300million sale to a consortium led by Amanda Staveley and backed by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund can be resurrected.

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The club last week issued a statement calling for the hearing to be held in public which was then backed by Staveley in a letter to MP Tracey Crouch, who is leading a review on football governance.

Today has seen former Sports Minister Crouch issue a wide range of proposals which would revolutionise the governance of the game in England and give supporters a greater say.

The Government commissioned the review in the wake of the Super League breakaway threat in April.

Following extensive consultation, Crouch set out preliminary recommendations in a letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden on Thursday.

Some of the proposals are designed to ward off similar breakaways in the future, but the letter also looked at measures to tackle financial mismanagement and protect club heritage assets such as the badge and colours by giving fans a ‘golden share’ veto.

Crouch believes an Independent Regulator for English Football (IREF) should have oversight of financial regulation, corporate governance and ownership but that its scope should not cover ‘football issues’ such as the running of leagues and video technology.

Legislation would be required to mandate a regulator and Dowden warned: “I will not hesitate to take bold steps where necessary.”

Other eye-catching proposals are for club representatives to be removed from the EFL and National League boards and for them to be replaced by independent directors, and for “meaningful discussion” between those competitions to consider the top tier of the National League being absorbed into the EFL.

She will also look at ways to mandate fan engagement, so that fans are consulted on key issues.

Crouch will issue her final recommendations in the autumn.

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