Oxford United back ‘vital’ independent regulator to ‘safeguard’ future of clubs

The creation of an independent regulator moved a step closer as the legislation to establish it was introduced to Parliament.

The independent regulator was a key recommendation of the fan-led review, which was promised by the Conservatives in their 2019 General Election manifesto in response to the demise of Bury earlier that year.

The regulator will have the power to force an owner to divest in the most extreme circumstances, but the Football Governance Bill that will establish it in law must first pass through the parliamentary process.

Oxford United’s chief executive officer, Tim Williams described the introduction of the Football Governance Bill as a “significant milestone for football in England”.

He said: “This bill is not just important, it’s vital for the sustainability of clubs up and down the country.

“Protecting our national game from the financial issues that have plagued so many clubs is of paramount importance.

“This bill will provide the necessary checks and balances to protect the financial viability of the football pyramid, ensuring that every club, from the grassroots to the elite, can thrive.

“The proposed new stadium for Oxford United is testament to this club’s commitment to long-term sustainability.

“It will not only provide a state-of-the-art landmark the whole of Oxfordshire can be proud of but also enhance the matchday experience for our fans, who are the lifeblood of this club.

“The importance of fans in football cannot be overstated.

“As shown by the recent launch of our new Fan Engagement Plan, we share the view that supporters should be instrumental in decision-making.

“I’d also like to place on record my sincere thanks to Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East, Robert Courts, MP for Witney, and David Johnston, MP for Wantage, for their continued support.

“The Football Governance Bill has the ability to safeguard the future of clubs like Oxford United and ensure that football remains the beautiful game that we all care so deeply about.”

Arguably the most eye-catching aspect, though, is the backstop powers it will have to impose a financial settlement on the Premier League and the EFL if they cannot agree one themselves.

EFL chairman Rick Parry has rejected the idea that an independent regulator risks killing the golden goose of the Premier League.

The Premier League has reiterated its concern around any “unintended consequences” of an independent regulator, and the prospect of any settlement that impacts the competitiveness of the top flight.

But Mr Parry said: “Nothing is going to change the competitiveness of the Premier League.

“The gap (in terms of wages paid) is just getting bigger and bigger between the Premier League and the rest (of Europe), so the idea that the Premier League is going to be unduly constrained or no longer competitive, I just don’t even see how that argument gets to first base.”

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