English football will have an independent regulator with a beefed-up “suitability test” for owners and directors before the next general election under plans set out by Nadine Dorries, the culture secretary.
Dorries’s plan, outlined in a letter to Boris Johnson seen by the FT, will put the government on a collision course with the Football Association, the game’s domestic governing body, and the Premier League over how the country’s most popular sport should be regulated.
The FA prefers the supervisor to sit within its structure, according to a person close to the governing body, while the Premier League has argued against full statutory regulation.
However, the English Football League, which runs the divisions below the top flight, is in favour of a body outside the FA, according to a person close to the EFL.
Dorries wants the regulator to be fully independent, according to her aides, although that could change in future if the FA could prove it had fundamentally reformed itself. But the plan raises the prospect of heated debate over the future of the sport.
The culture secretary argued that the abortive breakaway European Super League — a plan hatched last year with the support of the “big six”’ English premiership clubs — and recent financial troubles at clubs such as Bury and Derby County demonstrate the need for a new framework.
The sanctions placed on Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich have also put a spotlight on the need for tougher checks on the suitability of an individual to own a club, although it is thought unlikely that a new regulator would have stopped a Saudi-led consortium taking over Newcastle United last year.
Dorries accepted she would be criticised by some for delaying the legislation until after the next parliamentary session, which could give opponents hope that they can use the delay to water down the plans.
Tory MP Tracey Crouch, who oversaw a fan-led review of football governance last year, has argued that there is a…
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