Cobblers express support for the Football Governance Bill

‘We have been long-time supporters of the bill and we believe it is important that football has an independent regulator to solve some of the current issues.’
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Cobblers chairman Kelvin Thomas has re-confirmed the club’s support for the new Football Governance Bill, which reaches Parliament today.

The legislation being introduced establishes an ‘Independent Football Regulator’ (IFR) as a standalone body – independent of both Government and football authorities. The body will be equipped with robust powers revolving around three core objectives: to improve financial sustainability of clubs, ensure financial resilience across the leagues, and to safeguard the heritage of English football.

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"We have been long-time supporters of the bill and we believe it is important that football has an independent regulator to solve some of the current issues," said Thomas.

Kelvin ThomasKelvin Thomas
Kelvin Thomas

"Safeguarding the future of football clubs and ensuring we are financially robust are incredibly important issues. It was disappointing that the Premier League did not come up with an offer as promised for EFL clubs to assist the pyramid and that is something that they may regret as it is obvious to the rest of football that the financial model is broken. We think the IFR will certainly share this view and implement a deal that will make all clubs and the pyramid stronger.

"It seems the regulator will have wide ranging powers and will also encourage and oversee greater fan involvement at clubs, something we feel we are already ahead of the curve on. We already engage strongly with our fanbase, including having an independently elected fan director position. Having Tom (Cliffe) on the board has proved very valuable, and now with him also recently launching the FAB (Fan Advisory Board), this is another major step forward in fan engagement in line with the Bill.

"We would like to thank our local MPs for their support and their help in getting this Bill to this stage and we look forward to seeing the positive impact the IFR has on football and the pyramid."

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Under the Football Governance Bill, there will be new backstop powers around financial distributions between the Premier League and the English Football League (EFL). These powers mean that if the leagues fail to agree on a new deal on financial distributions, then the backstop can be triggered to ensure a settlement is reached.

For the first time, clubs from the National League (Step One in the football pyramid) all the way to the Premier League will be licensed to compete in men’s elite football competitions in England. The proposed licensing regime will be proportionate to any problems, size and circumstances and involve a system of provisional and full licences, to give clubs time to transition.

It follows a number of issues in recent years including financial mismanagement, breakaway plans for the European Super League, and changes to club names, badges and colours against the wishes of fans.

The EFL has also welcomed the Football Governance Bill.

“The EFL welcomes today’s arrival of the Football Governance Bill to Parliament in what we hope will be an important milestone to help us secure the long-term financial sustainability of England’s football pyramid," said EFL chairman Rick Parry.

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“If delivered on the right terms, this landmark legislation can help fix the game’s broken financial model by offering the independent input ultimately needed to help ensure that all clubs can survive and thrive in a fair and competitive environment.

“The establishment of the Independent Football Regulator will be at the heart of this reform, and we are encouraged that the regulator will be given backstop powers to deliver financial redistributions should the game be unable to agree a deal itself.

“In recent years, we have been working with Government and across Parliament on a cross-party basis. It is clear there is an appreciation of just how important professional clubs are to their communities and why they must be protected.

"We are pleased that the Government has stated its commitment to the State of the Game Review which will provide the basis for the independent regulator’s work in making the game financially sustainable.

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“The League looks forward to contributing to that review while simultaneously working with EFL clubs, Parliamentarians, and officials to ensure that the Football Governance Bill is fit for purpose and can deliver the best regulatory regime to safeguard our game for generations.

“Finally, on behalf of the EFL I would like to thank MPs, Peers, fans and all those who have helped get the Bill to Parliament and we will continue to work collaboratively in the months ahead.”