The Mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region, Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram, today launched the ‘Reclaim Our Game’ campaign.
Andy & Steve’s five-point action plan for our national game calls for:
- The Government to give an immediate commitment to legislate in the next Queen’s speech
- Empower supporters with an immediate “50+1” law – giving season tickets holders the final say on any major decisions
- Create a legislative framework to promote greater supporter ownership of clubs, moving towards the German “50+1” model
- Legislate for an independent statutory financial regulator for all professional leagues and clubs
- Call on UEFA to rethink proposals for Champions League reform.
Fans are encouraged to sign-up to support the campaign at reclaimourgame.com
Andy and Steve Rotheram have today called on football fans to build a movement to ‘Reclaim Our Game’ as they launched their five-point action plan.
The Mayors of Greater Manchester and Liverpool City Region have joined together after events over recent days have brought home how little control we have as a nation over our national game. And, speaking together today, they warned the threat has not gone away.
The European Super League (ESL) are already talking of ‘reshaping’ their proposal. Meanwhile, a proposal to reform the Champions League in the 24/25 season, which has clearly been driven by the ESL plan, was this week approved by UEFA’s Executive Committee.
Given the ongoing risks to our game, the campaign has been established to capture the strength and unanimity of feeling of recent days and coalesce around a series of clear and urgent calls, particularly to focus the Government’s Fan-Led Review.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, the Labour & Co-operative Party candidate at this May’s election, said:
“It’s impossible to overstate the value of our clubs to our city-regions – economically, socially, emotionally, culturally and historically. These clubs have been built by millions of people over generations and they are embedded in all of our lives.
“What the last few days have shown is how close to the brink English football now is. Our nation has barely any control over our national sport. That is a sobering realisation. Our clubs could be changed or taken from us in a heartbeat and there is very little we can do beyond organising, as we have seen this week.
“Make no mistake – the threat is real, it remains and it will return. That’s why we need to build a movement to Reclaim The Game and I urge anyone who cares about the future of football to sign-up and get involved.”
The Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, Labour’s candidate at this May’s election said:
“The situation that unfolded over the last few days has been farcical. What this has demonstrated about some owners is that they know how to make money from football, but they will never understand the game from the fans’ perspective.
“Those people that watch their teams stand in the pouring rain to watch their team, they aren’t supporters, they are fans in that they are fanatical in their support. This has to be a watershed moment for football. We can’t continue with the same model and with threats of more changes in the future without the involvement of fans.”
For further information and to get involved visit reclaimourgame.com
For further information email the campaign team at email@example.com
Here’s the full details of Andy & Steve’s five-point action plan to Reclaim The Game:
- PRESS THE GOVERNMENT TO GIVE AN IMMEDIATE COMMITMENT TO LEGISLATE IN THE NEXT QUEEN’S SPEECH
The whole ESL episode has illustrated the lack of control we have as a nation over our national game. We welcome the Fan-Led Review. But history shows that previous similar reviews have failed because of a lack of belief amongst football’s powerbrokers that the Government will follow through with legislation. To give the review real credibility and teeth, we call on the Government to commit now to legislate in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech, not just to prevent a repeat of recent days but to secure the health of the national game into the future through the much wider reform of football regulation and governance.
- EMPOWER SUPPORTERS WITH AN IMMEDIATE “50+1” LAW
Given the threat to our clubs remains real, we need to provide immediate safeguards for supporters to be able to act to protect the best interests of their clubs. We call on the Government to legislate to require all English clubs to secure a 51% majority of their registered season ticket holders on any major decision that fundamentally affects the club’s identity or future (for instance: a change of competition or league; a change of home ground; a change of name, club colours or badge).
- CREATE A LEGISLATIVE FRAMEWORK TO PROMOTE GREATER SUPPORTER OWNERSHIP OF CLUBS, MOVING TOWARDS THE GERMAN “50+1” MODEL
While point 3 provides immediate protection, the way to provide long-term protection for English clubs is by adopting the German 50+1 rule on supporter ownership of clubs. Between 2000 and 2020, we saw huge growth in supporter ownership of clubs in the UK through the establishment of Supporters Direct, a body set up to promote democratically controlled, not-for-profit supporters’ trusts. We now need to build on those foundations. While we can’t move to a German model overnight, we call on the Government and the game’s authorities to adopt it as the long-term direction and create a legislative framework to support it. Where clubs shares are being sold, either by shareholders or through new share issues, the legislation should require vendors to make shares available on a first refusal basis to recognised, democratically controlled supporters’ trusts. This rule would apply until trusts own 51% of club shares. The effect would mean that any prospective owner would need the consent of the supporters. The Government should consider other tax and financial incentives to help trusts build up the shareholding.
- LEGISLATE FOR A SINGLE, INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL REGULATOR FOR ALL PROFESSIONAL LEAGUES AND CLUBS
While all of the steps outlined above will help, the only way to secure the overall health of English football is through statutory regulation, as the Our Beautiful Game group, led by former FA Chair David Bernstein, has argued. The sad demise of Bury Football Club stands as a testament to the complete inadequacy of the current arrangements. The Group’s Manifesto has set out a clear proposal for the new regulator and we believe it should be adopted by both the Fan-Led Review and should be the basis for urgent legislation. Amongst other things, the regulator should be responsible for: approval of proposed take-overs of clubs considering proposed financing methods; application of a strengthened “fit and proper person” test for owners and directors; oversight of a club licensing scheme to ensure high standards of governance; and management of a system of redistribution of the game’s revenues to ensure the health of football at every level of the pyramid.
- CALL ON UEFA TO RETHINK PROPOSALS FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE REFORM
In the furore about the ESL, UEFA’s proposals to reform the Champions League have gone under the radar. They are not as extreme, but still hold serious implications for the domestic English game, particularly the English Football League. They are designed to make the rich clubs richer and will make it harder for other clubs to compete nationally and at the European level. By increasing the size of the competition from 125 games to 225 games, they will inflate the value of European TV rights most likely to the detriment of domestic TV rights. By requiring participating teams to play 10 games in the Group Stage (rather than six), the English Football League fears the Carabao Cup, which brings in a third of the EFL’s income, would be hugely damaged and the existence of lower division clubs put at risk. And by offering a backdoor route to qualification for big clubs who fail to qualify, using an “historical coefficient” based on past five years, the proposals damage the integrity of competition in football. For these reasons, we call on all supporters, stakeholders in English Football and the Government to rethink these plans with a particular emphasis on dropping backdoor qualification for big clubs and substantially increasing redistribution of resources to lower leagues who face the loss of crucial revenue.