Group containing Gary Neville unveils manifesto to reform English football
Gary Neville is part of eight prominent figures to have unveiled a manifesto to restructure English football.
The group, which includes Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis, former FA chairman David Bernstein and mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, have released a ‘Saving the Beautiful Game’ manifesto that aims to create a sustainable future for the game.
It is a proposal that would install an independent regulator or commissioner with the support of statutory powers from the government, who would tackle the financial disparity and unsustainability of clubs across the English pyramid.
Alongside that, the manifesto also tries to address the shortage of ethnic minorities coaching and managing at the top level of English football, along with the exploitation of clubs and fans.
The plans argue that ‘The FA lacks credibility and has proved to be largely ineffective as a governing body. It has not modernised and is not sufficiently independent.’
It comes after Project Big Picture, the controversial Liverpool and Manchester United-backed plan that would increase funding of EFL clubs but also see the Premier League’s big six be given the power to make decisions in the top tier of English football, was shot down by clubs.
This new manifesto calls on Parliament to introduce legislation to bring about radical reform to English football.
The seven-point proposal calls on a new body to be created that:
- Is independent of the current structure of football.
- Decides on new ways to distribute funds to the wider game based on a funding formula.
- Sets up a comprehensive licencing system for professional football.
- Reviews causes of financial stress in the EFL, including parachute payments, solidarity payments, salary caps and mandatory relegation clauses in players’ contracts.
- Implements governance reforms at the FA, including a reform of the FA council.
- Liaises with supporters’ organisations to help progress issues that are of concern to fans.
- Studies lessons from abroad over supporter involvement in the running of clubs.
The new body would be held accountable by the government but it would be funded by football itself rather than the taxpayer.
Successful models in other countries, such as the Bundesliga’s licencing model, have been cited as ways to maintain financial safety whilst also giving supporters more say in the running of their clubs.