The Government still aims to publish a White Paper this autumn setting out the remit for a new independent regulator for football, the new sports minister has told fan representatives.
The Times reported last week that the new Government under Prime Minister Liz Truss could abandon plans for a regulator, which was the central recommendation of the fan-led review conducted last year and which had been given formal backing by the previous Government under Boris Johnson as recently as April this year.
Gary Neville, a key voice in the fight to reform football governance, told a fringe event at the Labour Party Conference on Monday he had been “unnerved” by those reports, but new sports minister Stuart Andrew indicated the plans for a regulator remained on track in a meeting with the Football Supporters’ Association on Tuesday.
FSA vice chair Tom Greatrex said: “The fan-led review is crucial to the future of our game – it can give fans a bigger voice, protect our clubs and help prevent future European Super Leagues.
“We explained the history and ongoing importance of this to the minister who confirmed that the Government would aim to publish its White Paper this autumn.”
The White Paper had originally been due to be published in the summer, setting out more detail about the regulator and its proposed remit, but the change of leadership in the Conservative Party forced a delay.
Andrew tweeted after the meeting with the FSA: “I absolutely get the need for football to be reformed to make it sustainable in the long term. This will be at the heart of our next steps on football governance.”
The fan-led review was promised in the Conservative Party’s 2019 General Election manifesto.
Its commissioning was initially delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic but was then brought forward after the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ clubs signed up to the breakaway European Super League in April last year, which swiftly collapsed amid fan protests and political pressure.
Labour confirmed on Monday it would bring legislation forward for a regulator if the Government failed to do so.
Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell said in a speech to the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool on Tuesday: “Sport and culture also has a much deeper value.
“They give us belonging, shared experiences, joy and are at the heart of our communities. They aren’t only for the elite.
“The rise of the Premier League has made English football top of the world, but the lion has become unchained.
“That’s why the next Labour Government will bring in a statutory, independent football regulator to protect clubs for communities and fans.”