The Government recently produced its response to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s inquiry into the governance of football. There are of course some ways in which professional football may impinge on government responsibilities – for example, the sale of broadcasting rights (which may conflict with competition law) and the notorious "football creditors rule" (by which the footballing authorities have asserted the priority of debts to other clubs over debts to the taxpayer in bankruptcy cases). But this latest intervention is focused elsewhere.
Its prime concern is with creating a new Football Association board, a plan to develop a new wide-ranging system of licensing/regulation of clubs, and with making major changes to the representative structures of the FA. It explicitly threatens to impose legislation in these areas if the football authorities fail to come up with agreement on these measures by the end of February next year.
Going beyond this, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s response gives official opinion on such matters as the creation of "supporters’ liaison officers" (a good idea, apparently), the sale of clubs’ grounds (a bad idea), the compulsory release of club players for internationals (a good idea) and so on. It also finds room to make the case for an FA campaign against "transphobia". This isn’t the fear of losing your best player to a higher-paying rival, but rather the hostile response to those changing gender – a rare experience in football, I would have thought.
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