UK white paper proposes new football regulator

The DCMS is still due publish its gambling white paper.
The DCMS is still due publish its gambling white paper.

The move could influence the gambling sector’s relationship with the sport.

UK.- While publication of the UK gambling white paper remains delayed, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport has published another paper that could have an impact on the sector. Gambling isn’t specifically mentioned, but the DCMS has proposed the creation of a new football regulator.

The review of the sport was brought about by calls for reform from fans after controversies such as the European Super League proposal. New culture secretary Lucy Frazer MP described the paper as “the most radical overhaul of football governance since the rules were first invented over a century ago”.

A football regulator will ensure that clubs demonstrate “good basic financial practices” and have measures in place to meet cash flows and core assets, including their stadiums. The issue of football finance is closely entwined with sponsorship from gambling firms.

It’s been reported that the government is likely to accept a Premier League proposal for a voluntary ban on front-of-shirt sponsorship, which would allow other forms of advertising to remain and would not affect the Engish Football League.

The paper focuses on the issue of clubs’ financial sustainability but also mentions the need to “reduce harm”. It finds that “there exist fundamental problems of perverse incentives, poor governance, and defective industry self-regulation. These, along with the risk of breakaway competitions, threaten the stability of the football pyramid as a whole and risk leaving fans alienated and powerless”.

Sports minister Stuart Andrew, who had been tipped to take on the gambling brief, said reform was vital.

He said: “It is clear that football must be reformed. Under the guidance of the new independent regulator, football will be set on a more sustainable course for the future, from today and for generations to come.”

Gambling white paper

As for the DCMS’s gambling white paper, the conclusion of the review of the 2005 Gambling Act was due a year ago but has been delayed by the many changes and restructuring in the government. In early December, Paul Scully, the fifth minister in charge of the review, said the paper would be published “in a few weeks”.

As we now enter March, he’s been relocated to the new department for science, innovation and technology, leaving the gambling brief open. While it’s still unclear who will take over the gambling brief, the publication of the football white paper provides some hope that the DCMS may finally deliver its promised reforms of gambling legislation, providing more certainty for the sector.

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