LONDON—The creation of an independent regulator for English football was given initial backing by the government on Thursday in a move intended to safeguard the future of clubs by providing financial oversight and assessing the suitability of potential owners.

The announcement by Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries followed the publication of a review of football governance chaired by a former sports minister, Tracey Crouch, who concluded the game could no longer be left to run itself.

The review was commissioned by the government in April following the ill-fated attempt by six leading Premier League clubs to launch a European Super League. The review recommended granting the “golden share” of veto powers to supporters’ groups on key issues such as clubs attempting to enter breakaway competitions, moving stadium or changing club colors.

The review panel also examined the fallout from the collapse of Bury, which was expelled from the Football League after 125 years in 2019 after troubled ownership and financial turmoil.

“We are at a turning point for football in this country,” Dorries said. “The review is a detailed and worthy piece of work that will require a substantive response and plan of action from across government.

“But the primary recommendation of the review is clear, and one the government chooses to endorse in principle today: that football requires a strong, independent regulator to secure the future of our national game. The government will now work at pace to determine the most effective way to deliver an independent regulator, and any powers that might be needed.”

An independent regulator would ensure clubs are run sustainably and for the benefit of their communities through a licensing system, based on the vision of Crouch’s review. The regulator would have responsibility for administering strengthened owners’ and directors’ tests.

“The review demonstrates that there are fundamental issues with our national sport, and that this merits radical reform,” Dorries said. “Fans across the country want and deserve that reform.”

England’s most successful manager for more than half a century, Gareth Southgate, meanwhile, has agreed to stay in the job until 2024.

The 51-year-old Southgate isn’t ready for a return to club coaching just yet, especially when there’s a chance to improve on reaching the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup and the final of this year’s European Championship.

“When you’ve done work culturally and where they can challenge , you want to bring that to fruition,” Southgate said Monday. “We’ve only won one World Cup but we have to believe that’s possible, it’s an aim we have as a team.

“To step away when we think the next few years could have been exciting, that could be difficult to live with. If this contract is the last, I will only be 53 at the end of it and I hope there’ll be a lot of my life at the end of it.”

Now the focus is on the 2022 World Cup after qualifying last week.

“There was never a consideration I wouldn’t go to Qatar,” Southgate said. “I wanted to be sure I was wholly committed beyond that. Tournaments take a lot out of you and the way it ended for us took a lot of emotion and energy, and we were so quickly back in World Cup qualifying and I wanted to allow myself that consideration.

“I didn’t want it to be a case of me agreeing something with my mind somewhere else in 18 months. I’ve signed to the [2024] Euros and if the team carry on playing at the level we know they can, that’s when we take the next decision. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t rushing into a decision that further down the line I might regret.” AP

Image courtesy of AP





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