Friday 23 April 2021 / 2:32 PM Jo Stevens / Sport

Labour calls on the Government to publish timescale of football review and explain how it will be “fan-led”

Jo Stevens has written to Oliver Dowden to express concerns about the announcement of the terms of reference for the so-called fan-led football review.

The Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is calling on the Government to make sure fans really are at the heart of this process. Saying that the review will be “expected to engage extensively with fans to ensure any recommendations are led by fans’ experience and interests” is not good enough. For this process to have the confidence of the wider public it must be truly fan-led.

Labour is also calling on the Government to publish a clear timescale so that fans know this will not be delayed again and again. More than two years on from the Tories’ promise to set up a fan-led review, the public need to know that this time their views will be used to make lasting change to our national game.

Labour believes the review should address ownership models, governance, a new owners and directors test, an independent regulator, financial transparency, resilience and fairer distribution of broadcast revenue, conduct and culture and most importantly, real involvement and a voice for fans in our clubs.

Jo Stevens MP, Labour’s Shadow Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary said:

“It’s not good enough for the Government to say that this review will be ‘expected to’ engage with fans. They promised it would be fan-led and that’s what we need to see.

“We also need a clear timescale for completion so that the public can have confidence that the Government is serious about reforming football and making this the turning point fans deserve.”

Ends

 

Notes to editors

Full text of the letter:

 

The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden MP

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

100 Parliament Street

SW1A 2BQ

 

23 April 2021

 

Dear Minister,

We are writing to reiterate our support for the launch of the fan-led review of football which we believe is long overdue and welcome the publication of the terms of reference last night.

The past week has shown the strength of feeling across football, with rivalries set aside to unite against the ill-judged European Super League plan. We cannot let this opportunity for wholesale reform go to waste. Collective action has seen off this particular venture, but we all know this is not the first, and it is unlikely to be the last.

Whilst the plan horrified fans, players, managers and governing bodies it should not distract from the deep-seated issues plaguing the sport. Masked by the furore of the European Super League, UEFA quietly snuck through their changes to the Champions League designed to make the rich clubs richer and which also provide for inclusion within the League including making it harder for other clubs to compete nationally and at the European level.

This needs to be a watershed moment. You and the Prime Minister have spoken robustly this week about the importance of fans being at the heart of the sport. Labour has for many years campaigned on this issue and set out manifesto proposals to implement change. But we are concerned that the terms of reference published last night do not explain how fans will lead this process. Saying that the review will be “ expected to engage extensively with fans to ensure any recommendations are led by fans’ experience and interests” is not good enough. For this process to have the confidence of the wider public it must be truly fan-led.

It is also not clear how long the government expects this process to take. The review has already been delayed by more than two years and there needs to be a clear timescale so that meaningful change can happen as soon as possible.

Last July, our Shadow Sports Minister Alison McGovern wrote to the Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston suggesting that this was an area where such a cross-party approach would work effectively and this could draw on many years of work by colleagues across both Houses of Parliament. To this end, building on the collective approach taken to seeing off the European Super League plan, we are writing to offer our support with representation on the review from both Government and the Labour Party.

In addition to that offer, we set out a number of questions that we believed should inform the scope of the review. We remain committed to those suggestions, which include: ownership models, governance, a new owners and directors test, an independent regulator, financial transparency, resilience and fairer distribution of broadcast revenue, conduct and culture and most importantly, real involvement and a voice for fans in our clubs.

The review should necessarily include the women’s game  and lower leagues, of which there is no mention in the published terms of reference. Consideration should be given to regional hearings for evidence submissions, fan-led sessions, independent advisers, use of academic institutions specialising in sports policy, the co-option of supporters’ organisations and equality organisations specific to football.

These suggestions are by no means exhaustive but we believe any review needs to address all these issues to be seen as credible and for it to have the mandate to lead to fundamental change whether through legislation or other mechanisms.

Yours sincerely,

Jo Stevens MP

Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport