Every Premier League club will be asked to set up a fan advisory board for next season, under plans being drawn up by the top flight.
In a raft of new measures, the league also wants each club to make a named director responsible for overseeing supporter engagement and to appoint an independent panel to assess progress towards a new standard for the treatment of fans.
The proposals will be put before clubs at a top flight’s shareholders’, and if approved, Premier League rules will be amended and changes will be implemented from July, for the 2022-23 campaign.
Premier League is planning to ask all top flight clubs to introduce fan advisory boards
The league is stepping up efforts to engage with supporters following the government’s fan-led review of football, undertaken by MP Tracey Crouch.
Last month, the Government endorsed 10 key strategic recommendations from Crouch – among them was a proposal to create a new independent regulator for the sport and to set up shadow supporters’ boards at clubs.
But the Premier League is not waiting for the Government act. Details of the steps the league is willing to take immediately have been set out in a letter from its chief executive, Richard Masters, to Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries.
Government has set out how a new football regulator will protect clubs like Derby County
The Premier League, led by Richard Masters (pictured), wrote to Government saying reform is needed but that an independent regulator is ‘not necessary’
Some top flight clubs are already setting up fan advisory boards (FABs), ahead of any reform.
MANU FAN BOARD
Manchester United announced membership of its FAB in December, with ‘seven fan representatives from a range of backgrounds’, including nominees from the club’s fans’ forum and the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust.
However, the supporter group, The 1958, said last month it remains unimpressed by the Glazer family commitments to listen to fans.
‘We now know that we have NO fan share scheme on the table,’ the group said in a statement. ‘The parasites WILL sell land to build a stadium loading more debt on the club. The government have agreed to an Independent Football Regulator, which is a step in the right direction.’
The club has said it is ‘continuing to work towards a robust and attractive proposal for fans’ and remains in negotiations with the Manchester United Supporters’ Trust.
Everton started the process to elect members to its FAB this week. ‘Once established, the FAB will be consulted on long-term strategic issues and will meet regularly with the Club’s hierarchy, including members of the Board of Directors,’ Everton said in a statement.
And Brighton have announced an FAB with eight members, who will meet senior executives four times a season.
In its letter to Dorries, the Premier League said it is working on defining a fan-engagement standard in consultation with the Football Supporters’ Association. The top flight is also volunteering to give more money to the Independent Football Ombudsman and FSA.
The letter, which was sent a month ago, before the government’s response to the fan-led review was published, also highlights concerns over the financial impact of independent regulation.
The Premier League has commissioned an economic analysis of proposals in the Crouch Report, which the top flight says will be damaging to the league’s position as the most successful football competition globally, as well as a source of jobs and revenue in the wider economy.
‘The Fan-Led Review’s recommendations have the potential to deter investment, impose very significant costs across the industry and restrict competitiveness, particularly internationally,’ the letter stated.
‘The continued success of the Premier League is fundamental to the health of the entire football pyramid.’
The top flight reiterated its position that it supports greater regulation, but not a new and expensive statutory body created by law, which would have to be funded by football, with the Premier League being the source of funds.
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has given her response to a fan-led review of football. The review was run by former sports minister Tracey Crouch
The league wants to convince the government that it is prepared to implement much of what is proposed in the Crouch Report, including tougher tests for owners and directors, with the FA acting as a regulator, and therefore there would be no need for external regulation.
The Premier League may hope to persuade Conservative MPs that more costly statutory regulation – the Taxpayers’ Alliance recently estimated more than 1,000 regulators in the UK cost north of £200 billion – is not the way to go.
Premier League is set to contribute £1.6 billion to the football period during next three years
Crouch has said previously that an independent regulator for football would be likely to have around 50 staff and cost £5 million to set up.
In putting forward the Government’s position in late April, Dorries said: ‘We are now committed to fundamental reform, putting football on a more sustainable financial path, strengthening corporate governance of clubs and increasing the influence fans have in the running of the national game.’
Crouch expressed concern that the Government did not include plans for a regulator in this week’s Queen’s Speech.
‘While fans will be reassured by the commitment to an independent regulator and its powers, they will remain nervous that this commitment will be delayed or watered down by the vested and conflicted interests in the game which have resisted the much-needed reform for so long,’ she said.
Football regulator would aim to protect all clubs from unscrupulous owners
Legislation to create a regulator could be brought forward before the next election, due in 2024.
In the meantime, the Government has told the football authorities to work out a new model for financial distribution that provides greater support for lower league clubs and mitigated the impact of parachute payments, which distort competition in the Championship, in particular
The Premier League is set to share £1.6 billion with the football pyramid over the next three years, but the EFL has asked for a significant increase, which would push the total towards £2.5 billion, according to The Times.