Football Governance Bill

25 Mar 2024

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With all of the excitement surrounding the appointment of Gary Rowett last week, it might have gone unnoticed by some Blues fans that a significant step was taken by government to change the way football is run in the future. A Football Governance Bill was laid before Parliament which, if it becomes law as expected, will have a profound effect on the way football clubs are run in future. Including Blues.

The Bill has its origins in the Fan Led Review which was undertaken in 2021. This independent review, announced by the then Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden on 19 April 2021, was a comprehensive examination of the English football system with the aim of exploring ways of improving the governance, ownership and financial sustainability of clubs in the football pyramid, building on the strengths and benefits that the game already provides the nation.

Blues Trust contributed significantly to the Review on behalf of Blues fans, and is delighted that legislation is now expected to follow based on the many recommendations made at the time.

The plans unveiled in parliament include the introduction of football’s first independent regulator, a move which has long been called for by most, but not all, football clubs. Some clubs in the Premier League are still very much opposed to the proposal for example. But many smaller and less wealthy clubs consider the development to be welcome and overdue.

As outlined in the bill, the new regulator would be responsible for granting operating licences to all clubs in the top five divisions in accordance with agreed conditions. Backstop powers could be used to intervene in the absence of a fair financial settlement being agreed between the different leagues. This issue has been in the news recently because clubs in the Premier League have been unable to agree amongst themselves how some of their wealth might be shared to support the rest of the football pyramid.

Other principal objectives include ensuring financial stability at clubs, giving a meaningful voice to supporters on the way their clubs are run and safeguarding club heritage. Clubs judged to be in breach of their licence agreement would risk large fines.

The following is a summary of the Bill, courtesy of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.

https://www.icaew.com/insights/viewpoints-on-the-news/2024/mar-2024/new-bill-scores-for-football-governance/

It will be interesting to see how the owners and executive at Blues react to developments if the bill becomes law later in the year. So far it would appear that a neutral stance has been adopted by the club, with no public commentsmade one way or the other. This is in contrast to many other clubs which have been vocal in their support of the proposed measures.

The situation at our club is much improved of late of course. Financially the club is in far stronger position than it has been for many years. We also have very competent, successful and ambitious people running the club with a clear plan for development and growth. And there is in place a structure for engagement with supporters, albeit a model imported from Manchester City where circumstances are very different. Previously, under the former regime, there was no proper engagement at all. So the portents are good. And further strengthening of existing arrangements, not least around the issue of meaningful fan engagement incorporating matters of club governance, will be necessary if the required thresholds are not being met. We will see.

Blues Trust will continue to monitor developments closely on all fronts, both with regard to the bill as it makes its passage through parliament and in terms of the response from the club. The Trust will also contribute with views and ideas wherever appropriate, and raise any issues of concern if they emerge. The Trust will also continue to provide Blues supporters with full updates on progress.

 

Blues Trust

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