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Government publishes white paper on reform in football

Fair Game Government White Paper February 2023

Fair Game responds with the following

Supporting the game we love

The Government has released its White Paper into Football Governance – effectively its plans for football reform.

Make no mistake this is a massive moment for our National Game, but what does it mean to Tonbridge Angels?

We all want success on the pitch, but sadly we can’t all win every week. But what we can do is build a better future for football – one that ensures you can be proud in everything your club’s shirt stands for, safe in the knowledge that your club’s history and traditions will be secure for generations to come.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise there is a problem in the Game. At the top of the pyramid, clubs are spending more than they earn on players’ wages, encouraging well-run clubs to overspend just to compete. The consequence is clear. Clubs will disappear.

In 2020, before the pandemic AND the cost-of-living crisis, 62% of clubs in the top four divisions were technically insolvent. Yet, in 2021, a club getting relegated from the Premier League got £44m in parachute payments – that’s more than the Premier League gave to all of the clubs in League One, League Two, the National League, the National League North, the National League South and the top two divisions of the women’s game put together. One club getting more than 164 others.

And of course in the recent transfer window Premier League clubs spent £812m. 

Football needs a culture change, and we need fairer financial flow in football.

The current proposals suggest that financial flow should be decided by the Premier League and the EFL. But if that is the case there is a huge risk that clubs not in receipt of parachute payments in the Championship, and clubs in League One, League Two, the National League, the National League North and the National League South will lose out.

We all know the Premier League should give more to the rest of the pyramid, but they don't want to. And over 70% of what they do give goes on parachute payments – clubs getting rewarded for being relegated from the Premier League.

Meanwhile, the EFL are hamstrung by their articles of association, which stipulate that revenue from the Premier League must be split 80:12:8 between the Championship, League One and League Two. 

Those articles can only change if the clubs vote for it. But the current voting structure means Championship clubs have a controlling say.

In short, where is the voice for lower league clubs in those negotiations?

Fairer financial flow will only come through independent oversight, with a remit to care about all of the pyramid.

The clubs at the bottom of the Championship need a voice, the clubs in League One and League Two need a voice, the clubs in the National League, the National League North and the National League South need a voice.

Fair Game is that voice. And that’s why we are delighted Tonbridge Angels are one of 33 Fair Game clubs.

In the next few weeks as football debates the Government’s plans, we need to make sure our collective voice is heard.

Fair Game’s team of experts have been working hard over the last two years to develop realistic long-term solutions.

Ditch the parachute payments, give financial flow to an independent regulator and start rewarding well-run clubs.

We believe that every club should be rated on five criteria: financial sustainability, good governance, equality standards, fan engagement and community engagement. And simply the higher a club scores the more money it gets. We call it the Sustainability Index.

It is the true litmus test of a club’s performance.

But that vision can only become reality with your support. 

We’re sure you’re all behind this, so please do look out for updates on Twitter and on our website. Write to your MP (https://www.fairgameuk.org/contact-your-mp), volunteer to help us or donate to Fair Game (https://www.fairgameuk.org/donate).

Help us make a fairer future for football. 



Published Thursday 23rd February 2023