Football regulator in the UK
In response to the financial challenges facing football clubs in the UK, the government has given the green light for the establishment of a dedicated regulatory body. The aim of this organisation, as outlined in a statement from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on Wednesday, is to closely monitor the financial health of clubs and prevent instances of insolvency.
It is noted that the regulator will launch a new system of annual licensing clubs in the top five divisions of English football. In particular, they will be required to provide evidence of a sustainable business model and sound corporate governance in order to be allowed to compete.
It said the supervisory body will help protect clubs from changing the name, emblem and colours of home playing uniforms at the sole initiative of the owners without the consent of the fans. In addition, clubs will have to obtain permission from the regulator to sell the stadium or move to a new arena.
Furthermore, there will be new checks on the sources of earnings of club owners and directors. Along with this, the organisation will wield the authority to prevent English clubs from participating in future indoor tournaments such as the ill-fated Super League. This proposed competition, put forward by several elite European teams in 2021, garnered condemnation from both fans and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) due to its perceived negative impact on the sport's competitiveness and fairness.
Also, the statement points out that the decision to create the regulator is in line with the election programme of the ruling Conservative Party in the UK, which promised to develop measures to protect teams in 2019 following the bankruptcies of Bury and Macclesfield Town clubs.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport of the United Kingdom noted that at the end of the 2020-2021 season, the combined net debt of APL and Championships clubs reached £5.9bn. In the same season in Championships, the average ratio of players' salaries to clubs' revenues was 125%, indicating unreasonable spending by teams in excess of their financial capacity.
The statement separately states that the UK government will also review the effectiveness of the current visa rules for English clubs. Currently, teams can only invite foreigners who play for their national teams.