U.K. Soccer Review to Study Fan Ownership and Directors’ Tests

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The U.K.’s review into soccer governance will examine different models of club ownership, and determine whether the tests applied to directors are fit for purpose.

The study, led by former Sports Minister Tracey Crouch, will also examine whether existing oversight of foreign club owners is sufficient to protect the interests of the game, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport said in a statement Thursday.

The government announced the review Monday after six top Premier League clubs joined six from Italy and Spain in proposing a European breakaway soccer league. The English clubs pulled out following a backlash from fans and a threat from Prime Minister Boris Johnson that he was prepared to legislate to stop them.

Johnson’s Conservative Party had promised a fan-led review of football governance in its 2019 election manifesto, but had yet to commission it. The breakaway league proposal spurred ministers to act. Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said this week’s events “must be a watershed moment in our national game.”

“We must capitalize on this momentum,” he said in a statement. “Clubs are the beating heart of their local communities and this important review will help put football on a surer footing for the future where supporters’ voices are heard.”

Among other things, the department said the review will examine:

  • whether existing scrutiny of club finances is sufficient
  • financial flows through the leagues that make up the “football pyramid”
  • geographical, historical and identity protections for clubs
  • ownership models including the German system of fan ownership
  • whether ownership and directors’ tests are “fit for purpose and if there is further scope to extend the criteria”

The review will make recommendations on steps to reform the game, which could include legislation, according to the statement. The department didn’t say when it will conclude.

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