In a report published today, Tuesday, January 29, the Commons Culture Media and Sport Committee issues an ultimatum to the game of English football: make the necessary reforms within 12 months or face possible legislation.

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The Committee reported previously on domestic football governance in July 2011, after concerns were expressed by supporters and commentators about the sufficiency of checks and balances on financial management in football, as well as wider failures of governance.

The report concluded that the Football Association—English football’s governing body—was in need of urgent reform. The Committee said the leagues—especially the Premier League —had too great an influence over the decision-making processes of the Football Association. In particular the Committee was concerned that increasing commercialisation of the game, coupled with a lack of financial regulation, was leading to significant financial risk-taking among football clubs that threatens the game.

The Committee has been very disappointed by the football authorities’ response to its proposals for reform, saying they failed to go far enough in addressing the problems the Committee identified.

John Whittingdale MP, Chair of the Committee, said: “While some progress has been achieved, much greater reform in football is needed to make the game inclusive, sustainable and driven from the grass roots, where it should be. The proposals for reform so far simply don’t address the fundamental problems: the licensing model, the way supporters are engaged at club level and the membership of the Main Board, which is not fully representative or able to balance interests adequately.

“In addition, the financial proposals were hugely disappointing: the financial risk-taking by clubs is a threat to the sustainability of football as a family and community orientated game, which it should be. This is a central issue which must be addressed and real solutions – and the will to make the necessary changes - have been glaringly absent from the proposals so far.

“We recommend that the DCMS make it clear to the football authorities that further progress on these issues is expected within twelve months. If football cannot reform itself, the Government should introduce legislation as soon as practically possible.”

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