Thoughts on the football regulator as a Manchester United fan

After an opening salvo that the English game ‘lurches from crisis to crisis’ Tracey Crouch, MP admits, ‘there is so much to celebrate about English football. The Premier League is the leading league in the world…the Championship is by far the biggest ‘second division’ in football…the work of clubs’ in their communities has always been incredible…’.

As a longstanding MUFC season ticket holder I am aghast at the recommendations of the fan-led review into football led by Tracey Crouch, to appoint an independent regulator.

The English Premier League is indisputably the best in the world, attracting elite coaches and players; tactically sophisticated but also played at a high intensity and embracing physicality. The quality of the product has attracted global investment as owners wish to tap into that success and build upon it commercially.

They have also in the case of Manchester City’s owners funded local regeneration, and therefore set an example to others, maybe Newcastle will benefit similarly?

Ironically, Gary Neville, an outspoken critic of government policy, and who derived vast wealth from a playing career in the Premier league, and latterly as a pundit on Sky TV, calls for full implementation of the recommendations.

From my perspective the government’s record is looking somewhat dented just now: the ongoing migrant disaster; HS2 northern rail U-turns; social welfare reform hitting the poorest harder; Ofgem’s oversight of the energy companies imposing ceilings that hampered free-market response when crisis hit, and the lobbying payments and second jobs scandals.

I confess that I am no expert on football governance and, like the majority simply pay my money and watch the games. When I look at the participants in the review, however, I see well-meaning amateurs. I suggest that decisions made at club level directly affecting fans should be delegated to season ticket holders and members, people who have a dog in the race, not some amorphous, invisible ‘fan base’.

Since the publication of the report I have read with interest comments by executives running top level clubs, Christian Purslow, CEO of Aston Villa, and Steve Parrish, chairman of Crystal Palace. They both recoil at the prospect of an independent regulator with Purslow saying that the review risked ‘killing the golden goose’ of the Premier League.

Parrish published a comprehensive rebuttal of the review in The Sunday Times on November 28th.

The adage of if it’s not broke don’t fix it seems an appropriate one here.

– Chris Vickers, Salford

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