Football governance in England 'needs emergency surgery', says former sports minister Helen Grant

Helen Grant
Grant was sports minister from 2013-2015

English football governance needs "emergency surgery" and a regulator "to drive radical change", former sports minister Helen Grant has told MPs.

The Conservative MP brought forward a bill to establish an independent football regulator, arguing that the coronavirus pandemic had "laid bare and amplified" issues in the game.

Finances, club ownership, brain injury diseases and diversity in the game are areas Grant said needed addressing.

"Our game is in crisis," she said.

"Now is time for fundamental reform - reform that can only be achieved through the creation of an independent football regulator.

"We have seen much-loved clubs go to the wall and sadly many more will follow. At the heart of this is broken governance.

"Again and again, football has failed to reform itself.

"No-one is speaking for the football world with the independence and authority needed to address the big issues."

Grant, alongside former England defender Gary Neville, retired Olympian Denise Lewis and ex-Football Association chairman David Bernstein, is a member of a group that issued a manifesto for change called 'Saving Our Beautiful Game'.

Its "central recommendation", she said, was to have an independent regulator "funded from within football and not by public money".

"It would be not require government to run the game," she continued.

Grant said it should have the "power and responsibility" to:

  • Distribute funds in the interest of the wider game of football.
  • Introduce a comprehensive licensing system for professional football clubs.
  • Review thoroughly the causes of financial stress in the game.
  • Bring forward reform to modernise and strengthen the FA.
  • Work with supporter groups to advance the causes that really matter to them.
  • Drive and promote diversity and inclusion - areas, she said, "where football, from the coaching field to the boardroom, continues to fall well below the standards enjoyed in so many areas of modern British society today".
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