‘Time to act’: Former players demand independent regulator for football

A number of leading voices within football, including Micah Richards, Gary Lineker and Gary Neville, have a launched a campaign to secure an independent regulator for the English game.

The collection of former players, pundits and media figures urged supporters to sign a petition to parliament in the hope of building momentum for change. It comes ahead of former sports minister Tracey Crouch’s fan-led review of the game, launched in the aftermath of the failed European Super League plot.

“As football fans, we were appalled by the attempt to set up a European Super League,” the 22 signatories said in an open letter to accompany the petition. “It was a direct threat to the integrity of the game; destroying the concept of sporting merit and open competition.

“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.

“It is time to act. We support: Government legislation to block any Premier League clubs attempting to abandon the country’s football pyramid; The appointment of an Independent Football Regulator.”

The subject of a regulator for the game is first on the list of terms and references for Crouch’s review. The letter calls for a body that would “represent the interests of supporters, protect against bad practices … and seek to prioritise the wider good of the game”.

The FA already nominally acts as a regulator for much of the game, and the idea of an independent regulator is controversial amongst the most powerful figures in football.

The Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Masters, has already expressed his opposition to any regulator.

“Given what’s happened I don’t think we should be averse to change in the regulatory environment around football but I don’t think that the independent regulator is the answer to the question,” he said.

“I would defend the Premier League’s role as regulator of its clubs over the past 30 years. Clearly we’ve had some problems over the last 18 months, but so has every industry.”

Launched at 9am, at the time of writing the petition already had 30,000 signatures.