Football to launch crackdown on owners and breakaway leagues as King Charles announcing independent regulator plans is hailed as ‘historic moment’

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King Charles has used his first state opening of Parliament speech to announce a new independent regulator for English football.

The King confirmed the Government’s plans to create a new body to oversee the game and said it was to ‘safeguard the future of football clubs for the benefit of communities and fans’.

The regulator aims to prevent clubs from joining breakaway leagues, force them to seek approval for any sale or relocation of their stadium and create strengthened owners’ and directors’ tests.

There is also a commitment to ‘protect the long-term sustainability of clubs for the benefit of their fans and communities and helping to prevent the collapse of clubs’.

‘Across the Premier League and Championship combined, net debt increased to £4.4 billion in 2022. This shows that many clubs across the pyramid are financially vulnerable,’ the Government said.

King Charles used his first State Opening of Parliament speech to announce the regulator

The King confirmed the Government's plans to create a new body to oversee the game

The King confirmed the Government’s plans to create a new body to oversee the game

It has been hailed as a ‘watershed moment for the sport’ by campaigners.

Niall Couper, chief executive of Fair Game, said: ‘Today’s announcement is a historic moment for football and represents a real chance to end the cycle of overspending and mismanagement that has plagued our national game and threatened the very existence of our clubs.

But Couper also warned: ‘Reckless spending, disconnect between clubs and their communities, and lip service to equality standards must be consigned to the rubbish bin of history. This transformation can only be achieved if the regulator has the teeth and resources to deliver.’ 

The regulator, part of the Football Governance Bill, would stop clubs from breaking away and forming their own leagues, in response to the Big Six’s involvement in the proposed European Super League.

Sportsmail reported in February that the Premier League were apprehensive, with major concerns that the forthcoming legislation will impact future overseas investment into the division.

It is not yet clear what form the body would take and how large it would be. Inclusion in the King’s speech today suggests Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is hoping it can be in place by the time of the next election, although reports have cast doubt on that and suggested it could take two years to become fully operational.

More to follow. 

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