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

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

Chelsea fans show their support for Roman Abramovich. Credit: Alamy

New legislation for the Premier League is set to trigger a major shake-up in the management of football clubs.

The yet to be published football white paper, which The Sun claims to have seen ahead of time, will apparently enforce tougher regulations on who can own clubs.

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

According to The Sun, the new regulations will also prevent “greedy clubs” from joining separatist competitions like the European Super League – which sparked huge protests from fans in 2021.

All clubs in the top five flights of English football will need to obtain a new license to play under the proposals.

The paper suggests such legislation would have stopped Roman Abramovich from buying Chelsea, but Mail on Sunday football editor Rob Draper disputed the claims in a series of tweets:

“Very good detail from @TheSun this morning on the new football regulator – but one of the main lines that it would have stopped Abramovich from buying Chelsea is wrong.”

‘They say the new regulator will shut down owners who can’t prove their source of wealth…but the point about Abramovich + other oligarchs is that our most esteemed (

) banks, lawyers, accountants collapsed to deal with him in 2003. He *could* prove his proof of funds, even if they were obtained through bribery.

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

“Yet it took 11 years to sanction Abramovich because the oligarchs were useful to Britain’s power elites until the war.”

‘Nothing will stop a similar wealthy individual from a UK-friendly nation, the sort of people whose banks and lawyers earn serious ££, buying a football club. It’s not that the law has changed to allow the UK to punish Abramovich. The policy has changed. That’s it.’

The story continues

The reform will give fans more influence over the way clubs are run and prevent bosses from drastically changing kits and logos, the newspaper adds.

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

Reports on the football white paper – which The Sun says the Cabinet will soon sign off on – come after a fan-led independent review of football governance by Tory MP Tracey Crouch at the end of 2022.

The latest review – an update to the government-commissioned report on gambling in November 2021 – included 10 key recommendations, each backed by a more detailed strategy.

He proposed that a new independent English football regulator would oversee the sport’s financial regulation “to ensure the financial sustainability of the professional game”.

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

The publication of the White Paper has already experienced several delays due to the Conservative leadership change, among other factors.

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