The Football Governance Bill, the general election delay and how it could impact Middlesbrough

The UK will go to the polls on July 4 after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced this week the date that the general election would take place. But it could be bad news, at least in the short term, for Middlesbrough and other EFL clubs.

Putting party allegiances aside and the potential that many, so current polling suggests, will welcome change after 14 years of Conservative stronghold, as far as football is concerned, the earlier-than-anticipated general election means that a key piece of legislation that could have huge implications on the future of football now won't have time to pass and become law before Parliament dissolves next Friday.

That bill is the Football Governance Bill, which was legislation recommended after a fan-led review headed by Tory MP Tracey Crouch. It contained key principles which would block future breakaway leagues, improve financial sustainability, protect club heritage and give fans a greater say in how the game and the clubs they love are run. An independent regulator was due to be created too.

READ MORE: Football Governance Bill to give regulator power to settle Premier League and EFL funding row

The hope was that the bill would pass and become law before the start of next season, but, as it's not one of the bills put forward to be debated next week in the hope of being pushed through before Parliament dissolves, it won't become law unless the winner of the general election pledges to reintroduce the bill in the next Parliament.

Crouch, who has already announced she will not stand for re-election, said on X: "Unfortunately the Football Governance Bill will progress no further and although there is a ready-made Bill for the next Government, I won't be here to see it pass. I am 100% convinced there will be an Independent Regulator for football."

One of the key reasons why an independent regulatory is believed to be required - and one which impacts Middlesbrough most - is the perceived need to renegotiate the deal between the Premier League and EFL on the redistribution of money as the gap between the top two divisions grows ever bigger, while the parachute payments scheme creates an imbalance in the Championship.

For Boro, now a club not in receipt of parachute payments, the new deal could prove crucial in helping their future promotion chances and overall finances. It is hoped more money can start to filter down and be more fairly shared around in the EFL, with many Championship clubs, including Boro, currently way outspending the money they make each year in order to remain competitive.

While Steve Gibson is an altruistic owner whose personal love of Middlesbrough offers more protection to the club than others enjoy, the bill is deemed necessary in order to try address the financial climate in football, thus protection the future of clubs.

In March, Premier League clubs failed to agree on a 'New Deal' for EFL funding. That was despite warnings from Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer that failure to reach a deal would mean one being imposed on them by the new football regulator. With a delay, or possibly even end, to the creation of an independent regulator, exactly when a new deal between the two main governing bodies will come remains to be seen.

Crouch continued: "My final plea is to the Premier League and EFL...please, for the sake of football, sit back down and start negotiating a deal. The impasse is infuriating. I know it is complex. But please, agree a deal." She has also signed an open letterfrom the Football Supporters Association, calling for leaders to back a new bill if they come to power. It is signed by more than 170 fan groups, including the Middlesbrough Supporters Forum.

EFL chairman Rick Parry has told the BBC that while the body 'had hoped to see the Football Governance Bill passed into legislation in the current Parliament' the league is 'committed to working with the new government to ensure no further momentum is lost' after the general election.

Meanwhile, Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told BBC Radio 5 Live: "We absolutely want to see reforms but in terms of setting out the timetables of what those would be, we'll do that as part of our manifesto."

While the timeframe for introducing the bill could now be severely delayed, there is still hope. Simon Leaf, Partner at Mishcon de Reya - a law firm which take on many high-profile cases in sport - is convinced that the bill will eventually become law, and what's more, if, as polls suggest, it's Labour who win in July, it could go even further than initially expected.

Leaf said: "The Football Governance Bill has been criticised by a section of the industry - including the Premier League itself. However, any joy at this decision within the boardrooms for the Premier League and its clubs is likely to be short-lived - especially if the current opinion polls prove to be accurate and Labour win power.

"Shadow ministers have gone on the record to suggest that, in their view, the current Bill does not go far enough and so we may see additional powers being granted to the regulator if and when the Bill is re-introduced into the next Parliament."