‘We need to safeguard the integrity of the pyramid and put community back at the heart of football again’ – Steve Rotheram, Liverpool Mayor
‘Fair Game’s proposals are exactly what football needs. Football is integral to our communities. The game needs a reboot’ – Andy Burnham, Manchester Mayor
‘We want fans to be able to walk down the street wearing their team shirt proud in everything it stands for’ – Niall Couper, Director of Fair Game
The Mayors of Manchester and Liverpool today called for an overhaul of how football operates in England and Wales. The call came as part of a ringing endorsement for the club-led movement Fair Game from both Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram.
Fair Game is a group of 20 value-driven clubs from across England and Wales, working to find long-term solutions to issues around the game, including protecting the heritage of clubs, a fairer distribution of TV revenues, opposing the European Super League, and tackling discrimination.
The 20 clubs are: Accrington Stanley, Basingstoke Town, Bury AFC, Bristol Rovers, Cambridge United, Carlisle United, Chester FC, City of Liverpool, Curzon Ashton, Dorking Wanderers, Ebbsfleet United, Grimsby Town, Leyton Orient, Lincoln City, Luton Town, Maidstone United, Newport County AFC, Tonbridge Angels, Tranmere Rovers and AFC Wimbledon.
Fair Game are working with a team of over 30 world-renowned experts, including academics from universities in Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Brighton, London, Northumbria and Portsmouth to develop the solutions.
Andy Burnham, the Mayor of Manchester, said: “I’m happy to support Fair Game. Their proposals are exactly what football needs. I’m only too aware of the dangers that exist. We’ve seen the collapse of Bury and the spectre of the ESL. Football is integral to our communities. The game needs a reboot.
I back the need for an independent regulator, for an Owners and Directors Test that is fit for purpose, and most importantly the protection of the heritage and traditions of our clubs.”
Steve Rotheram, the Mayor of Liverpool City Region, added: “The European Super League farce showed how the future of the game we love hangs in the balance – especially as so many lower league clubs stare down the barrel of financial ruin.
Football is a vital part of the Liverpool City Region, of our local economy but of our communities too. We need to safeguard the integrity of the pyramid and put community back at the heart of football again.
The Fair Game campaign help to provide the blueprint for that.”
Earlier this month Tracey Crouch MP revealed her interim thoughts on the government’s fan-led review she chairs.
Niall Couper, director of Fair Game, said: “I am delighted that Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram have given their support to us. Football urgently needs a reboot and we are delighted that the Conservative MP Tracey Crouch’s fan-led review has opened that door.
Fair Game has been working hard with our clubs and our experts to develop realistic solutions to the problems our national game faces, and we are keen to work closely with the government.
We want fans to be able to walk down the street wearing their team shirt proud in everything it stands for and safe in the knowledge that their club will be there for the long term.”
Fair Game will be launching its full manifesto on 9 September at Plough Lane, the home of AFC Wimbledon.
Among the solutions proposed from Fair Game are the creation of an independent regulator, fairer distribution of TV revenues, the introduction of a Sustainability Index and the protection of a club’s ‘crown jewels’.
The Sustainability Index would grade all professional clubs on four criteria – equality standards, Fan engagement, financial sustainability and good governance. This score would then be used to determine how much of the TV revenues each club receives.
Fair Game also believes fans should be given the final say on any proposed change to a club’s ‘crown jewels’, which includes the club’s name, nickname, colours, badge and the geographical location of where the club plays.
My own views on Reform in Football can be read in this series here