Tracey Crouch addresses Newcastle United takeover controversy and Premier League transparency

Tracey Crouch believes the Newcastle United takeover would have been “stress-tested” more by the independent regulator proposed in the fan-led review.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 5:00 pm
Tracey Crouch MP.

Chatham and Aylesford MP Crouch chaired the review panel, which has published 47 recommendations designed to make English football more sustainable.

Central to the proposals is the creation of an Independent Regulator for English Football (IREF), which would have financial oversight of the sport at the professional level and license clubs in the top five tiers of the game.

One of its roles will be to take over the administration of the owners’ and directors’ tests from the Premier League, EFL and Football Association, with a view to ensuring owners are “suitable custodians of vital community assets”.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Premier League’s decision to wave through the £300million Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle, despite concerns over the country’s human rights record and the consortium’s connections to the Saudi state, was controversial.

Asked about whether the takeover could have succeeded under the new system proposed by the review, Crouch said: “I certainly can’t tell you whether or not this integrity test would have stopped the Newcastle takeover. I don’t know the details of it.

“But I would say that it would certainly have stress-tested it more, and it would have been more transparent in that testing.”

The review recommends that the outcome of every such test be published.

Another report recommendation is a “golden share” power of veto to supporters’ trusts over club heritage matters.

One instance where the veto could be used was an attempt by a club to enter a competition not sanctioned by the FA, FIFA and UEFA.

Crouch said she was confident there could be no repeat of the European Super League (ESL) fiasco with the new regulations in place.

Asked if that may have the affect of accelerating a renewed effort to break away, Crouch added: “I like to think the English clubs have learned their lesson, but you can never quite tell.”

The Government commissioned the fan-led review in the wake of the short-lived ESL’s formation in April.

Meanwhile, Newcastle United Supporters Trust chair Greg Tomlinson welcomed many of the recommendations.

Tomlinson said: “The Trust welcomes a number of the findings of the fan-led review, and I’m pleased that Tracey Crouch and the panel took on board the evidence the Trust presented to them.

"It has been clear for some time that the Premier League is not fit to govern itself, and the recommendation to establish a new independent regulator for English football established by an Act of Parliament should be welcomed by all football fans.

“The Trust welcomes the recommendation for the creation of a shadow board, and the proposal for a ‘golden share’, and we look forward to continuing to work with the new owners of Newcastle United to establish best practice in meaningful fan engagement.

"As ever – the proof is in the action. The findings of this report represent a significant step in the right direction, but actions speak louder than words, and the Government must now act decisively through parliament to legislate to put these recommendations into law and truly reset football to operate in the best interests of fans.”

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Newcastle United coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription; sign up here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor