Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons on 9th March 2023.
What steps she is taking to help ensure the views of fans are taken into account in the running of football clubs.
Fans are absolutely at the heart of football. As we set out in our White Paper, we are introducing an independent regulator for English football clubs, which will put fans back at the centre of how football is run. The regulator will require every club to meet a minimum standard of engagement and will ensure that fans have veto rights on issues such as a change of badge or home shirt colour, and are consulted on any stadium sale. Those are strong protections for fans across the country.
I agree with the Secretary of State. The Blackburn Rovers Supporters Trust is an integral part of Blackburn’s community and is at the heart of everything that happens. The trust was pleased that the White Paper eventually came forward, and welcomed most aspects of it, but it was disappointed that the Government did not make shadow boards or the golden share a requirement of the IREF’s licensing system. It feels that the reforms will not achieve the spirit of the fan-led review if fans do not have a voice. Will the Secretary of State consider, with the participation of supporters trusts, making shadow boards a minimum requirement for the football regulator’s licensing system?
What the hon. Lady says about football clubs being at the heart of their community is the case up and down the country. Our reforms make sure that fans have an integral say in matters that affect them. We are already seeing, and will see, shadow boards at premier league level, but I am confident that the changes that we are bringing in will give fans a greater say in football.
Can the Secretary of State outline to the House how the independent regulator will help with the financial sustainability of clubs, and how it will limit the power of owners, who may wish to gamble with their club’s future to reach the premier league and may fail, as was the case recently with Derby County?
The hon. Member makes an important point. Financial stability is one reason that we have brought in an independent regulator: to ensure that clubs are stable and are not destroyed, which then destroys communities, as I mentioned. The independent regulator will ensure financial stability and there will be owners’ and directors’ tests to ensure that we know who owns clubs and that they have the funds to maintain them.