Wed, Jan 30, 2013 - Page 18 News List

English soccer may face new laws

By Owen Gibson  /  The Guardian, London

The committee said government should set up an expert working group on the issue by the start of next season and resolve issues over how Supporters Direct, a body that provides help and advice to supporters’ trusts, is funded.

The inquiry was set up in December 2010 after a series of controversies: Portsmouth became the first Premier League club to enter administration after a series of owners; Liverpool became the subject of a complex high court legal battle; and fans protested against the debt-funded model of Manchester United’s US owners.

Allied to renewed concerns over homegrown talent following an abject showing at the 2010 World Cup, the embarrassing failure of the bid to host the 2018 World Cup bid and longstanding concerns about the dysfunctional structure of the FA, Robertson was prompted to say that “football is the worst-governed sport in this country, without a doubt.”

The Premier League argues it has introduced a series of reforms in recent years designed to improve the transparency of club ownership and reduce financial recklessness. Concerned that its new £5.5 billion (US$8.64 billion) broadcasting deal will fuel further rampant wage inflation, talks are continuing over introducing a version of the financial fair play break-even rules imposed by UEFA. However, the committee said the rules were unlikely to go far enough.

In a joint statement, the FA, the Football League and the Premier League said: “The football authorities continue to work toward the final approval and implementation of the governance reform proposals as outlined in February 2012. Significant headway has already been made on many of these proposed reforms, not least on sustainability and transparency.”

“The remaining reform proposals are the subject of consultation within the game and we are confident that the necessary progress will be made,” the statement said.

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