The Premier League has made a final attempt to reshape the role of an independent regulator for English football (Iref), weeks before legislation is expected to be announced in Parliament.
After two years of negotiations and consultation on proposals, with the publication of a white paper in the spring and a consultation period to which the government responded in September, the league has presented a new plan to those responsible in recent weeks.
According to people who have seen the proposals, the Premier League argues that any new deal should allow the league to retain a range of regulatory functions, with Iref only intervening in limited circumstances.
The Premier League says its plans do not aim to limit the scope of the regulator or make it a player of last resort. It argues that its submission is a normal part of an ongoing process, with the government stating in its consultation response that it will “continue to engage with and engage industry and fan groups as these proposals develop”.
However, the timing of the proposal is understood to have disappointed people working to set up the regulator, as the white paper in February set out broad parameters for the regulator. The government is committed to bringing forward legislation “as soon as parliamentary time permits” and an announcement is expected during the King’s Speech on November 7. A job advertisement was recently posted to hire a Chief Operating Officer for Iref.
On Thursday, Football Association chief executive Mark Bullingham told an industry audience at the Leaders conference that he believed there was a way to further define the regulator’s role. “It’s really coming down to understanding the government’s plans,” he said. “The last draft of these plans I thought were lacking in detail in some areas and we really want to see those details.
“We have a fear that it might be too interventionist with healthy clubs, rather than really focusing on helping the clubs that need it, and that’s what we want to work with the government on to make sure that…we do provide this support where it is needed.”