Frazer Threatens New Regulator Will Step In If Premier League Cannot Solve Funding Deal Issues

In recent weeks and months there has been plenty of talk surrounding the ongoing negotiations over the Premier League’s future arrangements for the funding of the English Football League, and we have also seen plenty of speculation over the Government’s new Football Regulator set up.

With an agreement still yet to be reached between Premier League member clubs and their counterparts further down the English football pyramid, in a recent speech at the FT Business of Football Conference, Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer insisted that if a funding deal failed to be agreed, then it would simply be imposed by the new regulator.

Top flight sides met for a two hour meeting on Thursday, and they have agreed to again meet on March 11 for further talks, but it is unknown at this stage as to whether that next meeting would include a formal vote on the EFL funding deal and you are unlikely to find more on TPP, as very simply put, few people at this moment in time have any idea on the odds of how far along their own talks on this topic have actually progressed.

The only thing we do know for sure is that at some point, one way or another, there will be an agreement struck that works for the EFL.

It is clearly a priority for the PL though, as chief executive Richard Masters chose to pull out of his own speaking engagement at the FT event in order prioritise Thursday’s meeting, and whilst Frazer may well have appreciated that decision, she still took full advantage of her position to repeat on a number of occasions that the new regulator would be appointed ‘in this Parliamentary session’ and it would be far more focused on ensuring financial stability throughout the divisions, rather than being overly tasked with becoming involved in the various disputes that arise.

Returning to the issue of failing to reach an agreement, she was far more than happy to explain the outline of what would then happen. “We don’t want this to be an issue for the regulator. It is clear football should resolve the issues for football. It is in the Premier League and EFL’s interests to come to a deal but it is clear if they don’t the regulator will.”

The arrangement of the ‘New Deal’ and how it should be financed has proven to be one of the major talking points between clubs over the last few months, and understandably some of the smaller top flight sides have argued that the ‘bigger’ members of the league should shoulder a greater percentage given their greater wealth.

The total sum is expected to be around the £900 million mark over six years, and it will be partly tied to future TV revenues, but with some disagreements at the PL level, there is also disagreement on how, and what, the financial regulations to be implemented in the Championship should be.

Frazer went on to explain that the new regulator would have ‘limited powers’ which means it would not involve itself in having a view on whether or not nation states were an appropriate way forward when it came to the ownership of Premier League clubs – which is slightly convenient given the complications that are at play, and it is not like the EFL themselves have had issues in being able to appropriately assess potential new club owners – so this feels like a more political cop out that does not have football’s best interests at heart.

“All the regulator is doing is looking at financial stability. That is appropriate. Foreign investment is part of the economy and makes the game competitive. The Premier League is a massive cultural export. We don’t want to do anything to damage that. Whether a foreign state should own the club is not in this bill. We want people who run clubs to run them well.”

Whilst this topic in particular is not an issue (yet) at the EFL level, as mentioned above, a regulator that cherry picks what kinds of ownership issues it will involve itself in will not fill fans with much confidence, as the existing EFL measures are clearly not fit for purpose given the continued and ongoing problems clubs continue to have.

What would potentially help on that front, for those clubs currently struggling with ownership and financial issues, would be for the PL to get its act together as the new funding deal is not a surprise arrangement, and the more they kick the proverbial can down the road, the bigger issues some clubs will have when it comes to their own planning for the future.

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