A parliamentary petition calling for an independent regulator in the English game by the end of the year has been launched.
The call for action came in an open letter signed by a number of former players and journalists, including Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Lineker.
The group highlighted last month’s European Super League breakaway attempt as evidence of the need for reform of the game’s governance.
“As football fans, we were appalled by the attempt to set up a European Super League,” the letter began.
“It was a direct threat to the integrity of the game; destroying the concept of sporting merit and open competition.
“Supporters came together with one voice to oppose the cynical power-grab by a group of wealthy owners. The furious protests were heard and the breakaway fell apart.”
The foundation of the Super League prompted the Conservative Government to bring forward the fan-led review it promised in its 2019 General Election manifesto.
The review will be led by former sports minister Tracey Crouch and will assess the need for an independent regulator.
The letter added: “Without swift and direct intervention, the return of a European Super League will be a constant threat.
“We welcome the fan-led Government review of the game and hope it leads to lasting change on an array of important concerns; including co-ordinated strategies to deal with racism, supporters’ representation within clubs, LGBTQ issues, ticket costs and the distribution of income. All of those aims can be realised if we take decisive action now.”
The letter also called for Government legislation to block any club attempting to leave the football pyramid.
The strength of competition law against such a breakaway is also likely to be considered as part of the fan-led review, with senior sources in the game concerned that the chances of succeeding in blocking an anti-competition action had the Super League progressed were no better than 50-50.
The letter signatories called for a regulator that could “prioritise the wider good of the game, rather than allow clubs to act solely in their own self-interests”.
Asked for his view on an independent regulator, Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said last week: “I don’t think we should be averse to change in the regulatory environment around football but I don’t think that an independent regulator is the answer to the question.
“I would defend the Premier League’s role as regulator of its clubs over the last 30 years.
“Clearly we’ve had some problems over the last 18 months but so has every industry sector. I don’t think an independent regulator is required, but that’s not to say that we won’t fully co-operate with Tracey Crouch’s review.
“We will be willing participants who will listen and contribute, and hopefully we’ll come up with the right formula.”
The Premier League plans to strengthen its rules and regulations and implement an Owners’ Charter to prevent any future breakaway attempts.