Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has called for supporters to be at the very heart of football following the collapse of the ‘completely and utterly wrong’ European Super League.
Speaking to talkSPORT, the MP said the promised Government-led review of the governance of the game should hand more power to the fans, insisting it’s time for change.
The bombshell news of the elite breakaway sent shockwaves through the sport last weekend, with football’s richest clubs coming together to form a new Super League that would practically make them untouchable at the very top.
But those plans came crashing down a mere 48 later, with NINE of the 12 founding clubs – including the ‘big six’ from the Premier League – pulling out after an incredible backlash from fans, pundits, managers and even players.
Supporters have been praised for collectively bringing the plans to an end, with the game’s mega-rich club owners earning widespread condemnation for their greed.
Liverpool fans are the latest to come together in protest of their owners, John W Henry and Fenway Sports Group, with Chelsea and Arsenal fans also voicing their anger at the plans in force over the past week.
Starmer hails supporters for showing their potential as instruments of change, and the politician told talkSPORT it’s clear supporters must be given a great say in the future of the game, and called the Government to step in.
“The proposal for the breakaway was just completely wrong and I’m really glad it came up against a wall of opposition from fans up and down the country, from fans that were involved and every other club,” the Labour party leader said on Saturday’s Gameday Warm Up show.
“Completely and utterly wrong, it would’ve completely destroyed football and I’m really glad it would’ve been knocked on the head.
“What we can’t do is now lose the opportunity. There’s been momentum and energy behind this, we need to use that to change football. The ownership – we need an independent regulator.
“The Government has promised a review, that’s a good thing, but we need it to be fans led and I’m a bit worried at the government’s reference that they’re ‘expecting’ to engage with fans. Well, that’s not good enough. We need to engage with fans.
“We’ve been talking about this for ten years in the Labour Party. We need to change governance. An independent regulator is key to this.
“What I want is an independent regulator where the principle is: what’s in the best interest of football? So it’s not money, money, money.
“We can look at different models for that, but if we had that underlying principle, I think that would make the money not the dominant issue – because that’s been the problem.
“I’m very worried about lower league clubs, because I’ve been to a lot of lower league clubs during the pandemic and they’ve really suffered.
“We have said ‘turning point’ before, but for ten years we’ve been discussing and done nothing.
“So many people have been outraged this week, now we can actually change something.
Liverpool fans protested on Saturday ahead of their Premier League game against Newcastle[/caption]
“I wouldn’t get too hung up on a particular model, the German model has worked well in Germany but I’d keep an open mind in the review to look at others that might work.
“But we do need to change it.
“Parliament can step in here and legislate to do something about this. You don’t want politicians and the Government getting involved in the day-to-day rules of football, but governance should be something the Government can look at. Nothing should be off the table.
“Money has been the dominant factor for too long. Once people see football as just a commodity to make money, then you’re losing something very special.”