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Fan-led review of English football to consider ownership, finance and fan involvement

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Fans protested at Chelsea on Tuesday before it was announced the six English clubs would not join a European Super League

New ownership structures at clubs will be assessed as part of a fan-led review into English football.

The review, brought forward by the UK government due to controversies over the proposed European Super League, will consider ownership, finance and supporter involvement in the game.

It will also assess if an independent regulator may have beneficial impact.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said the fan-led review “must be a watershed moment in our national game”.

Tracey Crouch MP will chair the review and report its recommendations back to the government and Football Association.

She said it will “take the necessary steps to retain the game’s integrity, competitiveness and, most importantly, the bond that clubs have with its supporters and the local community”.

Recent events – which saw six Premier League clubs sign up and later withdraw from a new European Super League – prompted fans to air frustrations over the power owners have in taking big decisions at clubs.

The review will consider ownership models including those used in Germany, where the 50+1 rule means clubs cannot play in the Bundesliga if one commercial investor owns more than a 49% stake.

The Bundesliga says the rule “protects against reckless owners and safeguards the democratic customs of German clubs”.external-link

“While foreign ownership has undoubtedly benefited the development of the game, the review will seek to test whether existing oversight is sufficient to protect the interests of the game,” the UK government said.

What else will be considered?

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Fans protested at Manchester United’s training ground on Thursday and held a ‘51%’ banner

In addition, the review hopes to scrutinise the Owners’ and Directors’ Tests currently in place, assess the flow of money through the English football pyramid, and consider if club finances could be scrutinised on a more regular basis.

In the wake of news breaking on the decision by Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal to join a European Super League, former England defender Gary Neville said he felt the game needed an independent regulator.

The fan-led review will assess how this could work and what relationship it could have with bodies – such as the Football Association – in the game.

Time will also be spent considering possible interventions that could protect club identity, such as historical features like club badges.

‘Intervention inevitable’ – Brighton CEO

All six clubs intent on a breakaway reversed their decision on Tuesday but many in the game have been left frustrated by their actions.

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber said there was anger among the 14 other Premier League clubs when they met this week and he expects “more government intervention” as a result of the controversy.

“First, we have asked the PL and FA to make sure they conduct a full investigation,” Barber told BT Sport.

“The second step must be to ensure it can’t happen again.

“Clearly the one thing we are very clear on is when we work in football, we work within the regulatory framework. We know there are rules we have to abide by and if these rules are breached there will be sanctions. In this situation, where the game has been damaged – this has been a PR catastrophe for the whole game – there have to be some consequences for that.

“The actions of the last 72 hours proves our framework has not been strong enough. There are so many people concerned by what could happen, we need more stringent control and clear sanctions for what would happen if anyone tried it again. The consequences could have been catastrophic.”

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