Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Lineker are leading calls for English football to appoint an independent regulator to guard against the lingering threat of a European Super League.
The three former England internationals along with Rio Ferdinand and Micah Richards are among more than 20 media figures who have put their names to an open letter published this morning along with a petition which calls for an independent football regulator and government legislation to block a European Super League from ever happening, now or in future.
Popular media figures and fans write a letter to the Whitehall saying “Its time to act”, to change football for the better
The call for action came in an open letter signed by a number of former players and journalists, urging supporters to sign a parliamentary petition – which reached 10,000 signatures in the first 30 minutes – calling for an independent regulator in the English game by the end of the year. The group highlighted last month’s European Super League breakaway attempt as evidence of the need for reform of the game’s governance.
This campaign comes just weeks after the ESL was abandoned after protests from fans at the Emirates, Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford with widespread condemnation from supporters.
12 European clubs shocked fans around the world on April 18 by revealing they had signed up to a new breakaway competition. The Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – were all involved, much to the anger of their fans.
Former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch is already leading a full scale review in the wake of the European Super League debacle and this will put further pressure on the Government.
The document calls on the Government to outlaw any future attempts from clubs to abandon the traditional football pyramid, and provides fans with the opportunity to sign a petition backing calls to introduce an overarching regulatory body.
The Regulatory body like a referee, would be impartial and would exist in order to mediate disputes over issues, such as how broadcast revenue is distributed among the 20 Premier League clubs as well as the format of solidarity payments to the EFL and beyond. It would also hope to introduce tighter regulation, protecting clubs from unsuitable owners, mismanagement and bad practices, and try to build bridges between the FA, Premier League and EFL. An independent regulator would also seek to protect the existing structures and traditions of the English game and guard against the threat of a super league or similar ventures.
The letter reads :
“As football fans, we were appalled by the attempt to set up a European Super League,”
“It was a direct threat to the integrity of the game; destroying the concept of sporting merit and open competition.
“Supporters came together with one voice to oppose the cynical power-grab by a group of wealthy owners. The furious protests were heard and the breakaway fell apart.
“Now we must make sure this never happens again. Without swift and direct intervention, the return of a European Super League will be a constant threat.
“We welcome the fan-led Government review of the game and hope it leads to lasting change on an array of important concerns; including co-ordinated strategies to deal with racism, supporters’ representation within clubs, LGBTQ issues, ticket costs and the distribution of income. All of those aims can be realised if we take decisive action now.”
The movement is likely to face opposition from the Football Association and the Premier league amid fears over losing control.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters previously had admitted that there has been a recent breakdown of trust and relations between the six clubs involved in the proposed Super League and the rest of the division.
Masters told Sky Sports News the Premier League will work with the Football Association to “bolster their rule book” in order to prevent any future threat of a breakaway.
Asked for his view on an independent regulator, Masters said last week: “I don’t think we should be averse to change in the regulatory environment around football but I don’t think that an independent regulator is the answer to the question.
“I would defend the Premier League’s role as regulator of its clubs over the last 30 years.
“We will be willing participants who will listen and contribute, and hopefully we’ll come up with the right formula.” said Richards in his interview.