MPs warn football must change

English football's authorities have been given an ultimatum by MPs to make further changes or face possible legislation - with a warning that financial reforms in particular have been "hugely disappointing".

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Football governors: Necessary changes will be made

In a joint statement, the FA, Premier League and Football League insisted the necessary reforms would be implemented:

The football authorities continue to work towards 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.

Warning to football over legislation 'no empty threat'

Sports minister Hugh Robertson has insisted the warning on legislation to football was no empty threat.

Sports minister Hugh Robertson. Credit: Press Assocation

He said: "We welcome the report from the select committee which shows the will there is across Parliament for football to modernise and change for the better.

"We have been clear that we want the football authorities to carry out the reforms they promised by the start of the 2013/14 season - most notably around improved governance and diverse representation at the FA, the development of a licensing system and greater financial transparency.

"If football does not deliver then we will look at bringing forward legislation."

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Recommendations for football made by MPs

Recommendations made by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee for football include:

  • Reduce the size of the FA board, and make FA executives and non-executive directors be in the minority compared to the "vested interests" of members appointed by the professional and amateur game
  • The Premier League and Football League should be limited to one FA board member each - the leagues currently have two apiece
  • The FA board should have fans' representation
  • Full information on the ownership of clubs should be made publicly available
  • The FA should regulate a financial licensing system, and not leave it to the Premier League and Football League
  • If spending controls such as financial fair play are not adopted by the clubs, legislation should be brought in to impose financial discipline

The FA, Premier League and Football League had responded to the initial committee proposals insisting they had taken steps towards "extremely radical" and "progressive" reforms.

The committee however said: "These proposals failed to go far enough."

Football 'should be driven from the grass roots'

Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee chairman John Whittingdale has said reform is needed in football to "make the game inclusive, sustainable and driven from the grass-roots, where it should be." He also warned that if changes are not made in the next 12 months, the Government would intervene.

John Whittingdale MP, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. Credit: Rebecca Naden/PA Wire/Press Association Images

He added: "The proposals for reform so far simply don't address the fundamental problems: the licensing model, the way supporters are engaged at club level and the membership of the main (FA) board, which is not fully representative or able to balance interests adequately.

"In addition, the financial proposals were hugely disappointing: the financial risk-taking by clubs is a threat to the sustainability of football as a family and community-orientated game, which it should be.

"This is a central issue which must be addressed and real solutions - and the will to make the necessary changes - have been glaringly absent from the proposals so far.

"We recommend that the DCMS make it clear to the football authorities that further progress on these issues is expected within 12 months. If football cannot reform itself, the Government should introduce legislation as soon as practically possible."

MPs urge football to change or face Govt intervention

English football's authorities have been given an ultimatum by MPs to make further changes or face possible legislation - with a warning that financial reforms in particular have been "hugely disappointing".

Football Association chairman David Bernstein. Credit: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The culture, media and sport select committee said the leagues - especially the Premier League - wielded too much influence over the Football Association.

The committee's follow-up report into football governance said it has been "very disappointed" by the football authorities' response to its proposals for reform made in July 2011.

Those proposals included shaking up how the FA operates and making clubs adhere to financial rules, regulated by a licensing system, to prevent financial risk-taking.

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