UK

Labour pledges to bring forward football governance reforms

Shadow culture and sport secretary Thangam Debbonaire said she was ‘going to look at everything again that was in Tracey Crouch’s fan-led review’.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (centre) with players Layah Douglas and Charlie White during a visit to Bristol Rovers FC while on the General Election campaign trail
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer (centre) with players Layah Douglas and Charlie White during a visit to Bristol Rovers FC while on the General Election campaign trail (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Labour has pledged to bring forward football governance reforms if elected and suggested a 10% transfer levy could be back on the table.

Sir Keir Starmer announced plans on Monday for Labour to introduce its own football governance Bill that would prevent breakaways and make sure lower-tier clubs are financially sustainable.

Shadow culture and sport secretary Thangam Debbonaire was asked during a visit to Bristol Rovers Football Club with Sir Keir whether she would consider reviving the transfer levy, which was recommended in a 2021 fan-led review but not taken up by the Conservatives in their version of the Bill.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer with Thangam Debbonaire (second left) during a visit to Bristol Rovers FC
Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer with Thangam Debbonaire (second left) during a visit to Bristol Rovers FC (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

That legislation was set aside after the General Election was called for July 4.

She said: “I’m going to look at everything again that was in Tracey Crouch’s fan-led review.”

There have been calls for a 10% levy on deals between Premier League clubs and between Premier League and overseas clubs to raise funds to support the football pyramid.

Ms Debbonaire told reporters at Bristol Rovers’ football ground: “A club like this, it’s not the wealthiest club in the world, and it wants to be able to invest in infrastructure.

“It wants to be able to make sure that facilities are good for the future.

“That does take money, so I’m going to look at absolutely everything that might help increase the financial sustainability.”

She noted that consultation details would be available to her as secretary of state that are not available to her as shadow secretary of state.

“So I think it’d be irresponsible just to say, right, we’re just going to take all of this, add in our amendments, bob’s your uncle,” Ms Debbonaire said.

Sir Keir Starmer and Thangam Debbonaire (right) after printing football shirts during a visit to Bristol Rovers FC
Sir Keir Starmer and Thangam Debbonaire (right) after printing football shirts during a visit to Bristol Rovers FC (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

However, she would not commit to a time frame.

In 2021, six English clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham – announced they would join a new European Super League, which was scrapped two days later following a public backlash.

In its manifesto, Labour said “we will never allow a closed league of select clubs to be siphoned off from the English football pyramid”.

Sir Keir said on Monday that “too often, clubs and fans are being let down by the wild west within the football pyramid.”

He added: “That’s why we will legislate for the long-awaited independent football regulator.

“In the face of continued threats of breakaways from some European clubs, we have to do this.

“On my watch, there will be no super league-style breakaways from English football.”

Ms Debbonaire said: “England’s football pyramid is the greatest in the world.

Sir Keir Starmer and Thangam Debbonaire were visiting Bristol Rovers FC
Sir Keir Starmer and Thangam Debbonaire were visiting Bristol Rovers FC (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“The new independent football regulator will ensure all its clubs are on a more sustainable footing so that fans can continue to share in the joy for generations to come.

“Football clubs are more than just a business; they are the pride of towns and cities across the country.

“In giving supporters a greater say in how their clubs are run and by strengthening owners’ and directors’ tests we will make England the best place in the world to be a football fan.”