Public ‘out of patience’ with football’s failure to reform, says sports minister | Soccer

The British public has “run out of patience” with English football’s failure to reform itself, the sports minister, Nigel Huddleston, has said, as he confirmed legislation for an independent regulator would be in place before the next general election.

The government has endorsed 10 key principles in Tracey Crouch’s fan-led review into football governance, with a new regulator the central idea among them. Huddleston said the government also expects the Premier League to distribute more money across the football pyramid and for a solution to be agreed with the Football League before the summer.

“We’ve all got incredibly frustrated over the years, in fact decades, of football recognizing it’s got problems and singularly failing to sort them out,” Huddleston said. “Quite frankly I think the British public and football fans in particular have run out of patience, and there is a need to intervene.”

While responses to the government’s decision to support the Crouch review were largely positive, some, including Crouch herself, said the lack of a timeline for delivery of new legislation was “worrying”. Huddleston insisted the government had committed to bringing a regulator into law before the next election, which is currently scheduled for 2024.

“There are some people expecting this is going to happen tomorrow or next week and there are other people thinking it’s two years but we do have the commitment to get this done before the next election,” he said. “We want to move forward quickly because we know there’s an overwhelming demand for this and we know the problems in football. But if we implement it tomorrow we could have exactly the opposite impact of what we are intending: making sure that clubs can survive and that they are financially sustainable. ”

Huddleston said details on the regulator’s powers would be published this summer as part of a white paper, including possible measures to ensure greater financial redistribution within the English game.

In its response to the fan-led review the government said that such a settlement should be agreed within football, ie between the Premier League and EFL directly, but it later confirmed that such an outcome needs to be confirmed by the summer. “I think the message to the Premier League is quite clear,” Huddleston said, “they need to act sooner rather than later because otherwise it will be forced on them through the regulator.”

The sports minister said he encouraged football to take pro-active measures on other recommendations from the report, such as creating better representation for supporters and ensuring the preservation of assets of ‘cultural heritage’ like football stadiums, so as to avoid the possibility of those solutions being imposed by government too.

Huddleston said that there were those within his own party who are “very uncomfortable with this level of intervention we’re proposing”, but the Conservative government now looks to have committed itself fully to independent regulation of one of the country’s greatest culture exports. As one headline within the government’s official response put it: “The free market will not rectify the problems.”

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