Premier League and EFL financial settlement is urgent, insists Labour

<span>Photograph: Javier García/Shutterstock</span>
Photograph: Javier García/Shutterstock

The Labour party has called for renewed focus on securing a financial settlement between the Premier League and EFL, after leaked proposals suggested the task could end up being settled by a regulator.

Football authorities have been in deadlock for more than a year on how to create a more sustainable distribution of revenue across the men’s football pyramid, after they were forced into talks by the government. A white paper on reforming football governance is expected to say that an independent regulator would be granted “backstop” powers to impose an agreement should football authorities be unable to reach one.

Related: MPs urge football clubs to back fan recommendations over sustainability

But the shadow secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, Lucy Powell, said deferring a solution could be disastrous and has criticised the government for not moving more quickly.

“The football white paper is long overdue,” she said. “Even if it comes soon, we won’t see a regulator with any teeth or statutory backing until at least the 2024-25 season. With over half of EFL clubs already insolvent, how many more could go bust or face the brink before then?

“It is essential that the white paper acts as a spur for football bodies to accelerate their negotiations on finances. Any powers given to the regulator should be an absolute backstop, not a delaying tactic.

“This is a once-in-a-generation chance to reset football, and set it on a sustainable path for decades to come. All of the work that has gone into fighting the European Super League, setting up the fan-led review, getting us to the point of a white paper, will have been wasted unless the government brings forward this legislation urgently, and we sort out a once-in-a-generation new settlement on financial distribution down the pyramid.”

A new financial settlement for men’s football was one of the key recommendations of the fan-led review of football governance. Published in November 2021, it led to the government taking up plans for a regulator. The review called for an agreement to be reached by the end of that year, but that did not materialise. The government then asked for talks to be concluded by the summer of 2022, when the white paper was originally to be published.

Discussions continue but an agreement remains out of reach. In January the six most senior administrators in the game – the chairs and CEOs of the FA, EFL and Premier League – met in person for the first time to continue negotiations but without a successful conclusion.