February 2023, Maidstone, Kent: Helen Grant MP has welcomed the announcement from the Government of a radical overhaul of football governance which will give fans a greater say in the running of teams such as Maidstone United FC.
These changes will mean a strong, independent regulator will oversee the top five tiers of men’s football and prevent a repeat of financial failings causing the demise of some of England’s oldest clubs – such as Bury FC, Wigan Athletic and Derby County.
Commenting, Helen said: ‘Maidstone United has directly suffered the effects of failings in the national administration of the game, and I have been working with them for many months to seek a more equitable situation. It has been abundantly clear for some time that greater protection of the grassroots core of the sport is needed, and as a former sports minister, I was very pleased to be invited to join an illustrious group of individuals back in 2020 to initiate a serious lobby for change in the governance of the game in England.
Members of the group included former England defender Gary Neville, former Chair of the FA David Bernstein, former governor of the Bank of England Lord Mervyn King and former Executive Director of the FA David Davies, among others. Our publication ‘Save the Beautiful Game – a manifesto for change’ was launched in October 2020, setting out the case and our recommendations – our principle proposal being for an Independent Regulator for English Football.’
‘Our proposals were taken seriously by Government, and also by the subsequent ‘Fan Led Review of football Governance’ that was chaired by my friend and neighbouring Kent colleague Tracy Crouch CBE MP. Tracy’s ‘Fan Led Review’ report was published in November 2021, and the government has now set out measures in a White Paper – which crucially includes an independent regulator – so this was a red letter day for our group in particular’.
Lucy Frazer, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, said:
“Our plans will end the boom-and-bust culture of football club finances and prevent the risk that club owners treat historic assets as expendable commodities. We want to see the incredible success of the domestic game at home and abroad continue. But for too long those responsible for running our national game have failed and our reforms will help strengthen the game.”