Good governance should bring cash rewards, the football clubs’ body insists

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Football clubs should be financially rewarded if they show good governance and engage properly with their fans, according to a group of clubs campaigning for greater sustainability in the game.

A new ‘sustainability index’ created by Fair Game, which counts 34 EFL and non-league clubs among its members, paints a worrying picture of the state of England’s top two divisions. The index combines scores awarded on financial stability, good governance, fan engagement and gender equality standards. Weeks ahead of the expected publication of the government’s plans for an independent regulator, just two Championship clubs and half of the Premier League get a score ranked as ‘good’.

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Fair Game proposes to publish the index, the first version of which is the result of 18 months of work, every year, and its chief executive, Niall Couper, believes its calculations should be included in any potential settlement reached by a new regulator.

“We believe that things like financial sustainability, good governance, equality standards and fan engagement – all elements of the fan-led review – are what really need to be given the highest respect in football, and it shouldn’t just be about the results on the pitch. ,” said Couper. “They are the path to long-term sustainability.

“Ultimately we want to develop a system that starts to reward football clubs for good behavior financially. When you look at the best regulators in the country, they are the ones who encourage good behavior and that means reward. We’ve got huge revenue into the game and what we should start looking at is a way of distributing funds to the clubs that are being run well.

“If you do that, you start to get clubs and fans saying that this sustainability outcome is what you should strive for; not just because of what it measures, but because it’s also financially rewarding.”

Fair Game is a strong supporter of the government’s fan-led review of football governance and has lobbied politicians to get behind the idea of ​​a regulator. Its concerns are shared by many MPs, but persuading the game to take up the ideas will be more complicated.

The Premier League and EFL remain deadlocked over a new financial solution for the professional game, something recommended by the fan-led review 15 months ago. The possibility of some form of financial redistribution to EFL clubs based in part on sporting values, as in the Premier League, has been discussed between the two bodies, but rewards based on management have not. Those close to negotiations believe that it is not something that many clubs want.

Liverpool fans at Anfield. The club tops the Premier League for financial stability, according to Fair Game. Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

The sustainability table finds Liverpool at the top of the Premier League, their position driven by a high score on ‘governance’, calculated using a weighted sum of values ​​on ‘clear governance’, environmental measures and whether the club pays the living wage (Liverpool were the first Premier League club , who committed to this in 2017). At the bottom of the Premier League table is Nottingham Forest, the result of a financial stability score of one out of 40.

Financial stability calculations take into account assets, liabilities and loans due in the coming year, along with key industry measures of wages as a percentage of revenue. Fair Game analysts said the latest financial information from the club showed Forest’s wage bill equals 202% of revenue.

Norwich City topped the Championship table ahead of Burnley, the only clubs to generate an aggregate score of more than 60, judged by Fair Games’ panel of 40 experts to be a ‘good’ rating.

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