Premier League CEO says increased Regulation could Upset the league’s Competitive balance

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters has warned legislators not to ‘wound the golden goose’ of English soccer’s top flight through heavy regulation.

The Football Governance Bill, which has the creation of an independent regulator for the sport at its core, is set for its second reading in Parliament after the Easter recess.

The UK government and those who support the regulator believe it will encourage financial sustainability in the professional game and make clubs more accountable to their fans.

However, the Premier League’s chief executive Masters has again warned of the risks it poses.

‘As chief executive of the Premier League, my overriding concern is that the bill would reduce our competitiveness and weaken the incredible appeal of the English game,’ he wrote in The Times on Tuesday.

‘It is a risk that regulation will undermine the Premier League’s global success, thereby wounding the goose that provides English football’s golden egg.

‘It is a risk to regulate an industry that has worked so hard to lead the world, especially when none of its competitors are subject to the same regulation.

‘Those competitors are relishing the prospect of the Premier League being uniquely constrained. Empires rise and fall — and while I am confident about the league’s immediate future, it would be a mistake to be complacent about our place as the world’s most popular league.’

Masters highlighted concerns over the regulator being given backstop powers to settle how television revenue is distributed from the Premier League to the English Football League (EFL) and the wider pyramid beneath it.

A new deal between the leagues was thought to be close last month before Premier League clubs opted to focus on agreeing new financial rules for the top flight first – something sources have suggested to PA is not likely to happen quickly given the differences of opinion that exist among the 20 clubs.

Masters, who highlighted the UK£1.6 billion (US$2.03 billion) the Premier League currently gives to the wider game over a three year period, wrote: ‘Already, before it has even arrived, the promise of regulatory intervention in soccer finances has changed incentives for a new voluntary arrangement to be struck.

‘We have spent the past year in discussions with the EFL about an even more generous financial settlement. But these talks have only served to highlight how destabilising intervention could be.

‘The EFL has indicated it would happily accept a generous new deal from the Premier League but would also immediately use the new regulator to seek even more money for its clubs, including the Championship, which is already the sixth-richest league in Europe, with many very wealthy club owners of its own.

’The government claims its regulator would not interfere on the pitch, but by intervening in the carefully calibrated distribution of revenues and upsetting competitive balance, it would already be doing exactly that.’

Meanwhile, the Independent reports that the activist group FairSquare has written to the government amid fears that the regulator could allow for more state ownership of clubs.

Clause 37 of the Football Governance Bill sets out that the body ‘must also have regard to the foreign and trade policy objectives’ of the government in relation to deeming whether a buyer is suitable to acquire an English soccer team.

FairSquare has submitted a letter sharing their concerns to Lucy Frazer, the UK culture secretary, and David Cameron, the UK foreign secretary. According to the Independent, the group writes that the clause could threaten the regulator’s independence, with some Premier League clubs thought to have lobbied for state ownership to be banned in earlier consultations.

FairSquare’s letter describes state-linked ownership as ‘arguably the greatest threat to the sustainability, integrity and vitality of football in England and beyond’.

PA Media contributed to this report

Source: SportsPromedia

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