Eight in ten football fans back an independent regulator
November 16th, 2023, Christien Pheby

Eight in ten football fans back an independent regulator

An independent regulator focusing on “financial resources, suitable owners, fan interests, and approved competitions” in English men’s football was announced in last week’s King’s Speech. The government is set to put a bill before parliament in the coming year.

While some have welcomed the move, which follows a fan-led review by Tracey Crouch MP, others have been more sceptical: England manager Gareth Southgate, for example, has suggested that an independent regulator could be “another VAR waiting to happen.”

But both the public and football followers are on board with the idea: overall, 56% of Britons say they are in favour of introducing an independent regulator for the English game – as are 80% of fans. Opposition is comparably low (All Britons: 5%; Football fans: 8%).

When we asked about specific measures that the regulator might introduce, fans were similarly enthusiastic.

The most supportive noises are around stricter suitability tests for owners (90%) and introducing measures to ensure that clubs are financially sustainable (91%). With clubs such as Wigan, Bury, and Derby Country entering administration in recent years – and with clubs like Macclesfield Town disappearing outright – supporters could be more alive to the dangers of poor financial mismanagement, and the importance of ensuring a proper match between owner and team.

On the latter note, 80% of fans endorse the idea of forbidding owners from changing a club’s name, badge, or kit colours: the memory of Wimbledon’s metamorphosis into MK Dons, or the period between 2012 and 2015 where Cardiff City (known as “The Bluebirds”) played in red to appeal to international markets may linger in some supporters’ minds.

A similar proportion endorse new measures to make sure that Premier League clubs share more of their revenues with clubs in lower leagues (79%), and the idea of introducing new rules to prevent clubs from joining breakaway competitions such as the proposed European Super League.

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YouGov Surveys: Serviced provide quick survey results from nationally representative or targeted audiences in multiple markets. This study was conducted online on 13-14 November 2023, with a nationally representative sample of 2000 adults (aged 18+ years) in Great Britain, using a questionnaire designed by YouGov. Data figures have been weighted by age, gender, education, and social grade to be representative of all adults in Great Britain (18 years or older), and reflect the latest ONS population estimates. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Serviced.