FOOT­BAL­L’s new inde­pen­dent reg­u­la­tor will have the pow­er to set­tle the dis­pute over finan­cial dis­tri­b­u­tion between the Pre­mier League and the EFL.

The reg­u­la­tor’s pow­ers will be con­firmed when the Foot­ball Gov­er­nance Bill is intro­duced to Par­lia­ment on Tues­day. 

The Gov­ern­ment has pre­vi­ous­ly warned foot­ball author­i­ties the reg­u­la­tor would have ‘back­stop pow­ers’ to inter­vene. 

A Gov­ern­ment announce­ment on the Bill said: “These pow­ers mean that if the leagues fail to agree on a new deal on finan­cial dis­tri­b­u­tions, then the back­stop can be trig­gered to ensure a set­tle­ment is reached.” 

Details over the point at which the pow­ers would be trig­gered – and what those pow­ers would look like – have not yet been con­firmed.

EFL chair­man Rick Par­ry’s state­ment reads: “The EFL wel­comes the arrival of the Foot­ball Gov­er­nance Bill to Par­lia­ment in what we hope will be an impor­tant mile­stone to help us secure the long-term finan­cial sus­tain­abil­i­ty of England’s foot­ball pyra­mid.    

Daily Echo: EFL chairman Rick Parry welcomes powers given to an independent football regulatorEFL chair­man Rick Par­ry wel­comes pow­ers giv­en to an inde­pen­dent foot­ball reg­u­la­tor (Image: PA)

“If deliv­ered on the right terms, this land­mark leg­is­la­tion can help fix the game’s bro­ken finan­cial mod­el by offer­ing the inde­pen­dent input ulti­mate­ly need­ed to help ensure that all clubs can sur­vive and thrive in a fair and com­pet­i­tive envi­ron­ment.  

“The estab­lish­ment of the inde­pen­dent foot­ball reg­u­la­tor will be at the heart of this reform, and we are encour­aged that the reg­u­la­tor will be giv­en back­stop pow­ers to deliv­er finan­cial redis­tri­b­u­tions should the game be unable to agree a deal itself.” 

Saints CEO Phil Par­sons has been vocal in favour of reform in dis­cus­sions with league mem­bers and has lob­bied Prime Min­is­ter Rishi Sunak dur­ing the process. 

PA Media reports the Gov­ern­ment said in a con­sul­ta­tion response last Sep­tem­ber that one pos­si­ble option was bind­ing final offer arbi­tra­tion.

Under that sys­tem, the two leagues would each sub­mit their pro­pos­al for the reg­u­la­tor to assess against pre­de­ter­mined cri­te­ria.

The reg­u­la­tor would then choose and impose one as the bind­ing arrange­ment.

There had been hope that the Pre­mier League’s clubs would make a for­mal offer to the EFL at a meet­ing last Mon­day.

No offer was made and the Pre­mier League said its clubs were focused on agree­ing new finan­cial rules for the top flight first. 

A new Pre­mier League state­ment issued in response to the Bill reads: “The Pre­mier League will now study the Foot­ball Gov­er­nance Bill, work­ing close­ly with Gov­ern­ment, par­lia­men­tar­i­ans and key stake­hold­ers.

“We agree it is vital that foot­ball clubs are sus­tain­able, remain at the heart of their com­mu­ni­ties and that fans are fun­da­men­tal to the game.”

Daily Echo: The Football Supporters’ Association said: “The regulator provides a means to intervene and stop clubs being run into the ground, protect the heritage of clubs.The Foot­ball Sup­port­ers’ Asso­ci­a­tion said: “The reg­u­la­tor pro­vides a means to inter­vene and stop clubs being run into the ground, pro­tect the her­itage of clubs. (Image: PA)

Top flight clubs had been accused by Cul­ture, Media and Sport select com­mit­tee chair Dame Car­o­line Dine­nage of mak­ing an “emp­ty promise”.

The EFL said it was “clear­ly dis­ap­point­ed” at the “repeat­ed fail­ure” to put for­ward any new fund­ing offer.

Pre­mier League sources insist the EFL pushed back on 15 sep­a­rate points when they made a pro­pos­al cov­er­ing increased fund­ing and cost con­trols to the EFL last Sep­tem­ber.

Par­ry told MPs in Jan­u­ary that the fund­ing offer under dis­cus­sion would give his com­pe­ti­tion 14.75 per cent of the net media rev­enues earned by the EFL and the Pre­mier League, pro­ject­ed to be worth an extra £900million to the EFL over six sea­sons.

The new regulator’s pri­ma­ry pur­pose will be to safe­guard the finan­cial sus­tain­abil­i­ty of clubs in Eng­land through a licens­ing sys­tem.

This will cov­er clubs from the Nation­al League up to the Pre­mier League. The Gov­ern­ment said the reg­u­la­tor will have the abil­i­ty to fine clubs up to 10 per cent of turnover for non-com­pli­ance.

It will also have the pow­er to block clubs from com­pet­ing in unap­proved com­pe­ti­tions.

Out­rage was caused among fans when six of Eng­land’s top clubs sought to form a Euro­pean Super League in April 2021.

The Gov­ern­ment intends the regulator’s licens­ing regime to be “pro­por­tion­ate” and said it will involve a sys­tem of pro­vi­sion­al and full licences, to give clubs time to tran­si­tion.

It adds the reg­u­la­tor will have the pow­er to assess prospec­tive new own­ers and direc­tors and dis­qual­i­fy them where they per­sis­tent­ly or delib­er­ate­ly fail to com­ply with licens­ing con­di­tions.

PM Sunak said: “For too long some clubs have been abused by unscrupu­lous own­ers who get away with finan­cial mis­man­age­ment, which at worst can lead to com­plete col­lapse – as we saw in the upset­ting cas­es of Bury and Mac­cles­field Town.

“This Bill is a his­toric moment for foot­ball fans – it will make sure their voic­es are front and cen­tre, pre­vent a break­away league, pro­tect the finan­cial sus­tain­abil­i­ty of clubs, and pro­tect the her­itage of our clubs big and small.”

Labour’s shad­ow cul­ture sec­re­tary Thangam Deb­bonaire added: “We’ve long been call­ing for an inde­pen­dent reg­u­la­tor for foot­ball to give fans a greater say in the way their clubs are run, tack­le poor gov­er­nance and pre­vent bad-faith own­er­ship.

“The new reg­u­la­tor must robust­ly defend the inter­ests of fans and ensure the finan­cial sus­tain­abil­i­ty of the foot­ball pyra­mid.

“We will scru­ti­nise the pro­pos­als of the Bill care­ful­ly and work to ensure the new reg­u­la­tor has the pow­ers it needs to pro­tect clubs.”