Football White Paper designed to stop Abramovich types but probably won’t

News Desk
Chelsea fans show their support for Roman Abramovich.

New legislation for the Premier League is reportedly set to trigger a major shake-up to how football clubs are run.

The yet-to-be-released Football White Paper, which The Sun claims to have seen in advance, will apparently enforce tougher regulations on who can own clubs.

The measure will make sure only ‘fit and proper custodians’ can take over outfits, in a bid to prevent multi-millionaires who cannot prove they amassed their fortune legitimately from owning English football clubs.

According to The Sun, the new regulations will also stop ‘greedy clubs’ from joining breakaway competitions like the European Super League — which triggered huge protests by fans in 2021.

All clubs in the top five flights of English football will need to gain a fresh licence to play under the proposals.

The newspaper suggests that such legislation would have stopped Roman Abramovich from purchasing Chelsea but the Mail on Sunday chief football writer Rob Draper has disputed those claims in a series of tweets:

‘Very good detail from @TheSun this morning on the new Football Regulator – but one of the top lines, that this would have prevented Abramovich buying Chelsea, is wrong.

‘It is said the new regulator will stop owners who can’t prove their source of wealth….but point about Abramovich + other oligarchs is that our most highly regarded (😐) banks, lawyers, accountants were falling over themselves to deal with him in 2003. He *could* prove his proof of funds, even if they were corruptly obtained.

‘Abramovich’s lawyer admitted in court in 2011 that there was no rule of law in Russia when RA got rich + the auction to obtain his assets was ‘rigged’.

‘Yet it took 11 years to sanction Abramovich because oligarchs were useful to UK power elites until the war.

‘There will be nothing to stop a similar wealthy individual from a UK friendly nation, the kind of people banks + lawyers are making serious ££ from, buying a football club. It isn’t that the law changed to enable UK to sanction Abramovich. The politics changed. That’s it.’

The reform will give fans more of a say in how clubs are run and stop bosses from radically changing kits and logos, the paper adds.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan reportedly wants the regulator in place for the 2024/25 season and will ‘formally unveil legislation imminently’.

Reports of the Football White Paper – which The Sun says Cabinet will soon be signing off on – comes after an independent Fan-Led Review of Football Governance by Tory MP Tracey Crouch in late 2022.

The latest review – an update on the Government-commissioned report into the game in November 2021 – included 10 key recommendations, each supported by more detailed strategy.

It proposed for a new independent regulator for English football to oversee financial regulation in the sport ‘to ensure financial sustainability of the professional game’.

Other parts of the strategy addressed corporate governance, diversity and new tests for club owners and directors.

The release of the White Paper has already seen several delays due to changing Conservative leadership – among other factors.