Fan led review of football press statement
London, 26 November 2021 –The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland has today released a statement outlining its views on the fan-led review of football governance, published 25 November 2021.
The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland welcomes the fan-led review of football governance, chaired by the former sports minister Tracey Crouch, which has published its findings alongside 47 recommendations for reform of the way in which the national game is run.
The Institute believes that good governance is at the heart of bridging the gap between the role of the football club in society and its role as a private business.
We are committed to raising governance standards in the sports sector, from grassroots organisations to household names, because we recognise both the importance to the nation of these institutions and the contribution of sound governance to their success. We are delivering change through our Sports Governance Academy in partnership with Sport England.
Football clubs sit at the heart of their communities, are central to local identity and play ‘an often invisible role in unifying communities across generations, race, class and gender’. They are more than just businesses. Yet at the same time, the game is big business. Keeping pace with the scale of change which the game has seen and ensuring that clubs are run responsibly and sustainably and are preserved for future generations demands implementation of appropriate and robust governance practices.
Ownership models vary significantly throughout the structure, but prescribed obligations for transparency and accountability ought to be constant. The report is correct to identify the potential for fundamental damage caused by misaligned incentives, reckless stewardship and failure to implement principles of good governance.
We welcome the principal recommendation of an Independent Regulator for English Football (IREF) with a clear statutory objective and strong investigatory and enforcement powers. The efficacy of this move will depend on the IREF being suitably equipped to challenge and address poor behaviour regardless of the club or owner in question.
We are particularly interested in the proposal for the adoption of a corporate governance code based on the Code for Sports Governance. Through the Sports Governance Academy, we have witnessed the transforming effect on the sector of the application of robust governance standards and this year took up an invitation from Sport England and UK Sport to act as an independent member of the Project Board of the Code’s review.
Crafting a code which meets the needs of National League outfits as well as publicly listed Premier League clubs will be a challenge. Major factors in the success of the Code for Sports Governance have been its mandatory status, its proportionality and the support given to those who must abide by it. The IREF will need to address all of these if a football code is to thrive.
Sara Drake, Chief Executive of the Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland, said: “This is a thoughtful and thorough report. Football clubs are an important part of the country’s sporting, social and cultural life and it is essential that they are run well and sustainably. The Institute has strongly supported the improvements made in the sports sector in the UK, however reform has been long overdue in football. We are pleased to see these report recommendations to adopt robust governance practices. We work closely with regulators in all sectors and welcome Tracey Crouch’s call for an independent regulator to safeguard the future of our national game”.
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1 The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland is the professional body for governance and the qualifying and membership body for governance professionals across all sectors. Its purpose under Royal Charter is to lead ‘effective governance and efficient administration of commerce, industry and public affairs’ working with regulators and policy makers to champion high standards of governance and providing qualifications, training and guidance. As a lifelong learning partner, the Institute helps governance professionals to achieve their professional goals, providing recognition, community and the voice of its membership.
One of nine divisions of the global Chartered Governance Institute, which was established 130 years ago, The Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland represents members working and studying in the UK and Ireland and in many other countries and regions including the Caribbean, parts of Africa and the Middle East.