Tracey Crouch says reform of English football has been “delayed by politics” with plans for a new regulator for the game yet to be put before parliament.
The author of the fan-led review into football governance, which was published 10 months ago and met with widespread support, said she was “frustrated” by the slow progress of government action, with a white paper on the proposals still to be published.
Speaking at an event chaired by the UK Onward think tank, Crouch was asked if implementing the fan-led review was high up the current government’s agenda. “I don’t know the answer,” she said. “We are coming up to the one-year anniversary and it feels like there hasn’t been much public progress.
“I know the DCMS has been working hard on the white paper, but it still hasn’t been published. I would expect nothing less than top quality [from the white paper], but it is being delayed by politics and that is frustrating as I am keen to get on with it.
“The sooner we start the sooner we can prevent another Bury [which went into administration in November 2020]. It would have been nice to have some sort of safety net at least started to have been put in place.”
The government, under Boris Johnson, had said previously that a white paper would be published in the summer though there was no commitment to a firm date. A report in the Times last month suggested the current prime minister, Liz Truss, was considering putting plans on hold, however. On Tuesday evening, sources inside the DCMS insisted to the Guardian that the white paper was still going ahead.
Crouch said that she still believed a regulator would be implemented, even if it took a future Labour government to implement it. “It’s a no brainer, I want it done as soon as possible,” she said. “To be honest I’m relatively relaxed because in five years we’ll have an independent regulator. But it’s incredibly frustrating.
“Let’s put the fact we’re a bazillion points behind in the polls to one side. When an election comes, it only takes [one club owner] to write in the match programme that the government hasn’t delivered and you lose 500 votes and potentially a seat.”
Also speaking at the debate was chairman of the EFL, Rick Parry. One aspect of the fan-led review had required the EFL and Premier League to discuss an alternative to the current system of parachute payments given to relegated Premier League teams. If an agreement was not reached, the review argued, it should be settled through the intervention of an independent body.
Parry told the event that discussions between the EFL and Premier League had not taken place. “Discussions over parachute payments [have] not yet started,” he said, “and it just isn’t going to happen without independent intervention.”