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Bring it under control

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The Government of the United Kingdom is scheduled to finally release their long-awaited white paper on football before the end of February 2023. In the aftermath of the initial announcement that six Premier League clubs were joining The European Super League in April 2021, then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson threatened that a “legislative bomb” would be used to prevent anything of the sort from happening. Almost two years after it was promised, the bomb is now finally due to drop.

So, what can fans expect from the White Paper and how is it viewed by the institutions that already govern the British game?

What is football white paper?

A white paper is a formalised plan for legislation, the act of making a new law or set of laws. In this case, the government will outline how it intends to create an independent regulator for football. These recommendations taken from the ‘independent Fan-Led Review of Football Governance’ are set to change the face of English football forever and are designed to ensure the protection of all clubs from unsuitable owners.

In a nutshell, the new independent football regulator is being assembled to ensure the safety of historic football institutions after the recent financial collapses of clubs. Bury and Macclesfield Town’s demise have been used as examples where a regulator would have been necessary to ensure clubs are protected and made more sustainable.

This, in the words of one source, is precisely why a regulator is needed. The EFL has significantly tightened its ownership rules, blocking a lot of buyers, but no authority is actually outlining any sort of overall vision over who should own an English football club. It’s just somewhat dubious whether the white paper will go this far. The initial fan-led review made no mention of state ownership.

When will the white paper be released?

The paper has been delayed several times since its initial release date last summer. The most recent postponement came two weeks ago when it was scheduled to be publicised on February 8, 2023 before that was shelved due to the visit of the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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After months of deliberations and delays, the Government have outlined the intentions behind introducing the White Paper on football, which could change the future of the Premier League and the English Football League pyramid for years to come. The fan-led review, completed by former sports minister Tracey Couch MP, was backed by the Government last year in response to calls to protect the future of English football.


Impact on Premier League and Super League

The 12 clubs that attempted to form a breakaway European Super League in April 2021 – including the Premier League’s Big Six of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham would be prevented from joining new competitions under the new regulator.

The only circumstances which would enable such a move would have to come from pre-determined criteria, and that includes consultation with the FA and fans. That means clubs will no longer be able to plot a secret move away from the Premier League or UEFA competition, as it stands. While the Premier League insist they are open to all dialogue as well as more regulation, it isn’t really a view shared within the rest of the game.

Among the measures will be a licensing system from the Premier League to the National League requiring clubs to be approved over a range of issues before being allowed to compete. However, on what has been described as ‘historic’ day in English football there is significant apprehension at the Premier League.

The Paper is expected to begin the legislative process to bring in a host of radical changes to the way football is run, with a new independent regulator for football the main highlight. The plans have received backing from the prime minister Rishi Sunak, who believes the “bold new plans” will “put fans back at the heart of football”.


Arnold Lewis
A hardcore Chelsea fan, who is often found playing football on the weekends. He has an exceptional voice and his rendition of old Hindi classic songs will make your heart melt. He is the man with the funky hair.

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