New era for football as white paper recommends new regulator
Details on the new independent regulator were released as part of a football industry white paper, which was brought about by a call for reform in the form of a fan-led review of football governance.
The review brought up a number of key issues concerning the sport, including the controversial European Super League – a proposed competition that was criticised for being elitist and exclusionary of certain clubs.
While the football white paper does not specifically mention how the place of the gambling industry will be addressed going forward, it focuses greatly on financial sustainability for clubs and efforts to “reduce harm”.
“There exist fundamental problems of perverse incentives, poor governance, and defective industry self-regulation,” reads the report. “These, along with the risk of breakaway competitions, threaten the stability of the football pyramid as a whole and risk leaving fans alienated and powerless.”
The new regulator will require clubs to demonstrate “good basic financial practices”, alongside having measures in place to meet cash flows and protecting clubs’ “core assets” from harm – including their stadiums.
While these issues are mainly centred on how clubs receive and spend money, the question of financial sustainability and harm are reminiscent of gambling’s intrinsic link with the sport.
Protecting the sport
Lucy Frazer, the recently-appointed secretary of state for the slimmed-down Department of Culture, Media and Sport, said that the new regulator would have governance over football’s key assets and issues.
“This white paper represents the most radical overhaul of football governance since the rules were first invented over a century ago,” said Frazer.
“It commits to an independent regulator backed by legislation, and sets out the technical details of how that will work in practice – including the licensing regime the regulator will operate, and the non-regulatory reforms also needed within football.”
Michelle Donelan, who had been named as the head of the original DCMS by former prime minister Liz Truss in September 2022, now heads a new department – the Department of Science, Innovation and Technology.
Stuart Andrew, minister for sport, said that the reform is necessary to preserve the place of football in English culture.
“It is clear that football must be reformed,” said Andrew. “Under the guidance of the new independent regulator, football will be set on a more sustainable course for the future, from today and for generations to come.”
In the past year, there has been tense discussion regarding gambling shirt sponsorship deals in football, with rumours that leagues were considering a voluntary ban in July 2022.
White paper woes
The release of this football governance white paper serves as a reminder for the gambling industry’s own long-awaited white paper – a policy document that will come off the back of the 2005 Gambling Act review.
Last month, iGB reported that Downing Street is set to step in to advise on revisions of the Gambling Act white paper.
Numerous changes in parliament and the political landscape have all but halted the progress of the Whitehall document, which is allegedly to be published in the coming weeks.