English Football League chair Rick Parry hopes the fan-led review of football governance can help provide the “fundamental financial reset” needed to safeguard the future of the game.
Promised by the Government as part of its manifesto for the 2019 General Election, a panel, chaired by former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, heard more than 100 hours of evidence across six months, with the results published on Wednesday evening.
The review has delivered 47 detailed recommendations, one of which includes Premier League clubs paying a “solidarity transfer levy” to further support the football pyramid, delivered through a “stamp duty” on deals between top-flight clubs or signings from overseas.
Parry hopes such measures can be the pathway to a more even playing field across the whole of the English game.
“We hope that through constructive dialogue with the football industry, the fan-led review is a catalyst for positive change that can make clubs sustainable, while serving the English game for many decades to come and we look forward to working with the Government, and the game’s stakeholders in the weeks and months ahead,” Parry said.
“While we may not always agree on the best approach to take, we believe that the vast majority of clubs and supporters want the same outcome which is a sustainable and competitive pyramid in which any club can prosper.
“Having been consistent in our view that professional football requires a fundamental financial reset in order to deliver sustainability across the pyramid, we are happy that this is a key recommendation in the fan led review of football governance published today.
“In particular, it is pleasing to see the review conclude that additional distributions from the top of the game are needed alongside appropriate cost controls to support football in this country, and we look forward to advancing discussions with the Premier League regarding a restructure of the funding model that works for the whole game.
“Clearly this extends to addressing the outdated parachute payment system that currently distorts finances in the EFL and I am heartened that Tracey Crouch and her team agree these should be ‘reformed as part of a wider reform of distributions’.
“Above all else, achieving financial stability has to be the number one priority. Reducing volatility and fostering balance throughout the English leagues will provide the bedrock upon which reforms can be built.”
While the Premier League did not respond to any specific topic, the governing body welcomed the review and will examine the proposals moving forward – but also issued a warning over any wide-sweeping reforms which ultimately damage the game’s standing.
A statement from the Premier League read: “We recognise the vital importance of fans and the need to restore and retain their trust in football’s governance.
“We also acknowledge the call for some form of independent regulation to protect English football’s essential strengths and the Premier League has already undertaken our own governance and strategic reviews.
“These will continue to progress together with the ongoing work of the fan-led review.
“The Premier League, alongside English football as a whole, is a global success.
“We have an outstanding track record on and off the pitch, including the positive impact on youth development, communities and the wider game, of which we are proud.
“It is important to everyone that any reforms do not damage our game, its competitive balance or the levels of current investment.”
The Government is expected to support in principle the idea of an independent regulator, and a written ministerial statement is set to be published on Thursday morning.
Commenting on the review, Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee chair Julian Knight MP said: “For too long professional football in this country has operated with a disregard for fans and for the most basic good business practice.
“We welcome the review’s central recommendation for an independent football regulator with accountability to the DCMS Committee to assess performance and value for money.
“Today must mark the start of building a stronger, fairer and more sustainable national game.”
The Football Association pledged to work with the Government over the recommendations, and added: “Many positive changes have already been made, some of which are directly as a result of the review.”
Football Supporters’ Association chief executive Kevin Miles hopes the review can act as a catalyst for meaningful change.
Miles told the PA news agency: “A lot of the recommendations we have been calling for have been acted on.
“Put it all together and it addresses the sustainability of the game, issues about solidarity and fan influence.
“As a package it is a very strong set of proposals and we urge the Government to implement it in full as soon as possible.”
The Professional Footballers’ Association and Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, have also been contacted for comment on the review.