Damian Collins MP and former chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee has published (along with Charlie Methven of Sunderland AFC) an article calling for central government financial support for football clubs struggling as a result of Covid-19.
"So, the short-term problem is clear to see. With no clarity over the future of live matchday attendance likely anytime soon, clubs will go bust unless they are bailed out somehow. The government has already given a £16million emergency loan to Rugby League to help protect that sport from precisely the same problem, and EFL clubs are also going to require some form of public funding."
But Collins does not recommend this happening without strings attached:
"If public money is going to be used to bail out football clubs, we have to introduce reforms to their governance so that they are run in a more sustainable way in the future. That is why we are setting a six-point plan to rescue football and protect these community assets for future generations to enjoy.
- A ‘Football Finance Authority’ (FFA) scheme should be created by the Football Association - but working with and backed financially by the government - to provide financial assistance to EFL clubs.
- Funds should be provided by the FFA to allow clubs to meet their short-term liabilities and provide them enough breathing space to restructure their finances, but couldn’t be used to invest in recruiting new players or improving the club’s infrastructure. Rather than being offered as loans these funds would instead be exchanged for a minority shareholding in the club, of between 10% to 49% depending on the level of investment required and the value of the club.
- Independent directors would be appointed to the boards of clubs as representatives for this minority shareholding. These directors can be nominated by either a registered Supporters Trust or by the relevant local government authority, but they must be non-political and subject to approval as Fit and Proper by the FFA.
- These Independent Directors shall have real time access to the financial records of their club and can report their concerns back to the FFA. Clubs that continue to trade outside the rules of the EFL would be put into a form of administration by the FFA, where a credible plan would be implemented by independent auditors to bring the financial affairs of the club back in line with the League’s rules.
- Either a recognised Supporters Trust or a local authority can subsequently acquire the FFA shareholding in their club at a discount to market value, and funds raised in this way would be returned to the government to help repay the public investment in this scheme.
- The EFL’s financial regulations should be set and enforced by the FFA, the governing body of which should include representation from the EFL, the Professional Footballers Association (PFA), the Football Supporters Association (FSA) and the clubs themselves, but with an independent majority"
The article in full: