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There have been many interventions by multiple agencies to reorganise English football. This has resulted in a number of incremental improvements, although not the kind of radical reforms which many have advocated. The problems are most evident when it comes to the regulation of professional football clubs. There continues to be a flow of ‘crisis’ clubs, typically where the motivations of the owner(s) are often in conflict with what supporters expect from a custodian of their club. However, most football clubs are well run, so it is to the detriment of the whole game when these dramas are played out.
Of course, fans want their clubs to succeed on the pitch, but they also want them to survive off it, with generations of memories and a wealth of local value wrapped up in their existence. Supporters get frustrated when there appears to be a ‘passing of the buck’ between the football authorities, particularly when rules are breached or deemed ineffective. Supporters want a single point of contact, with transparent processes and better communication, to keep them informed of what is happening at their clubs. Other countries are seemingly able to manage the challenges of club regulation in this way.
Supporter’s Direct believe it is time to secure a system of regulation which fosters continuous improvements in club governance – commending those clubs which are well-run and supporting the improvement of those who face problems. SD suggests that this would best be achieved by concentrating regulatory responsibilities within the FA. SD propose a rolling process of review, intervening whenever there is evidence of problems, offering help, guidance and practical support to those who need it.
Despite the EFL showing they are interested in tackling the problem, with a recent review into owner conduct and league powers to intervene, there remain several unanswered questions: Is it the role of the leagues to organise the competition or regulate their clubs? Have the F.A. delegated too much of their responsibility when it comes to club regulation? Where is the voice of the long-term stakeholder if the (regularly changing) club owners have such power in setting the rules? Ultimately who is in charge of English football?
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