Authors

David de Ferrars

Partner

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Joe Pengelly

Associate

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Authors

David de Ferrars

Partner

Read More

Joe Pengelly

Associate

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24 May 2024

Disputes Quick Read – 89 of 88 Insights

Introduction of football regulator on hold for now

  • Quick read

Rishi Sunak has dealt a blow to the introduction of an independent football regulator by calling a general election for 4 July 2024.

The Football Governance Bill is currently at the Committee stage and so it seems very unlikely that it will be passed before the final whistle is blown and Parliament is dissolved on 30 May 2024.

Tracey Crouch, the former Sports Minister who oversaw the fan-led review that led to the establishment of the Bill, has acknowledged that the Bill is on hold for now: "Unfortunately the Football Governance Bill will progress no further and although there is a ready made Bill for the next Government, I won’t be here to see it pass".

What will it mean for the Bill if, as is widely expected, the Labour Party win the general election? The Labour Party are in favour of an independent football regulator, but a Labour government may look to change the details of the legislation to increase the scope of the regulator's powers. For example, at the second reading of the Bill in Parliament, Shadow Culture Secretary Thangam Debbonaire urged the Government to clarify why Premier League parachute payments were excluded from the regulator's powers to intervene in disputes between the Premier League and the English Football League regarding revenue distribution. However, an extension of powers may not go down well with FIFA and lead to an intervention in what FIFA could see as an improper interference in the "beautiful game".

It seems then that the introduction of an independent football regulator is likely to be delayed rather than abandoned. Clubs throughout the football pyramid will no doubt be keen to understand from the new government at an early stage the extent of any proposed changes to the Bill and we will be watching FIFA's moves with interest. We will provide our thoughts on any changes when these are announced.

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