Gary Neville says new independent football regulator ‘must have teeth’

Gary Neville
Gary Neville is a co-owner of League Two Salford City

Former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville says a new independent regulator for football “must have teeth”.

The Salford City co-owner has called for change in English football after recent issues with financing, ownership and the European Super League.

He says independent regulation is “essential”.

But he said a regulator “must have teeth, and the ability to veto and step in on behalf of fans”.

He also said the people leading a regulator had to “have a passion for football but be neutral enough not be connected to clubs” and that the “people most concerned about independent regulation tend to be connected to Premier League clubs”.

The negative reaction to the European Super League – proposed by some of Europe’s top clubs – has sparked a huge debate about how football is run.

The government has announced a fan-led review and independent regulation is set for a parliamentary debate after Neville helped launched a petition that gained more than 100,000 signatures.

Neville has been a vocal critic of football’s governance and the European Super League – which was backed by Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal – and in an online debate on Tuesday, outlined five points that a regulator must tackle.

He said: “The regulator must safeguard the football pyramid, preserve fair competition, give supporters a voice in clubs, offer a fairer distribution of wealth and have stricter ownership rules.

“I don’t see a regulator having to invade football. I don’t see this as a risk.

“I’m not against an independent regulator coming in to modernise and restructure the Football Association and then hand it back.”

The ‘keeping the game beautiful’ debate also included former governor of the Bank of England Lord King and shadow sports minister Alison McGovern, who said football’s issues could be solved.

King, an Aston Villa fan who left the club’s board after a row with American owner Randy Lerner in 2016, said football’s governance had “failed to keep up” with its success on the pitch and the game was “unable to come to a common view because each group is trying to protect its own interests”.

He added: “This can only be solved with a governance structure to generate sensible collective decisions or the government to appoint a regulator to solve the problem.”

McGovern, a Liverpool fan, added: “Some would say it would be too difficult [to solve football’s problems].

“But when I was in government we dealt with the banking crisis, and it has improved greatly over last decade. Banking and finance is much more complicated than football and there are some parallels.”

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