Clubs fear being ‘wiped off the map’ without independent regulator

Twenty-eight clubs have written to the government urging it to press ahead with plans for an independent regulator, warning inaction would lead to clubs being “wiped off the map”.

An independent regulator was the central recommendation of the fan-led review, which was commissioned by the government last year in the wake of the European Super League scandal.

A white paper setting out the regulator’s scope had been due for publication in the summer but there have been three prime ministers since that timetable was set out and the upheaval has led to delays and uncertainty.

It was even reported that Liz Truss, who resigned as prime minister on 20 October having taken on the leadership of the party in September, had been preparing to abandon plans for a regulator.

Her successor, Rishi Sunak, publicly committed to implementing all 10 recommendations of the fan-led review during the Conservative leadership contest in the summer, and now a group of clubs from across the football pyramid, including 15 from League One and Two, have called on his government to make good on that pledge.

“Football clubs are at the heart of our communities, with numerous local businesses dependent on them,” the letter to the culture secretary, Michelle Donelan, stated. “Inaction now could lead directly to clubs being wiped off the map and local economies and communities being devastated.”

The letter noted Donelan’s speech to the Conservative Party conference in September where she recognised the impact of clubs within her constituency and how she could not be happier to serve as secretary of state in charge of sport at a time when “British sporting excellence is all around us”.

“You are right football is incredible, but all those great things you mentioned are at risk,” the letter continued. “Football is at a crossroads and the future of the game hangs in the balance.

“We have seen over a third of clubs go into administration since the turn of the century. And in 2020, 52% of clubs were technically insolvent. Since then the pandemic has left clubs on their knees and the cost-of-living crisis threatens to deliver a knockout blow.

“To save football we need the independent regulator. Any further delay is simply not in the wider interests of football – and crucially the communities they serve. We await the White Paper on football governance with interest and we implore you to commit to immediate legislation for a regulator in the next King’s Speech.”