Biggest shake up to football ownership in years leaked – what it means for your club

DODGY owners will be blocked from getting hold of our footie teams under a huge clean-up.

A leaked Government paper seen by The Sun will mean multi-millionaires who cannot prove the source of their wealth won’t be able to complete takeovers.

The new charter will see dodgy owners blocked from getting hold of our footie teams under a huge clean-up

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The new charter will see dodgy owners blocked from getting hold of our footie teams under a huge clean-up
Chelsea fans helped sink European Superleague plans in 2021 and the new rules will help stop such schemes in the future

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Chelsea fans helped sink European Superleague plans in 2021 and the new rules will help stop such schemes in the futureCredit: Getty
New rules would also see the likes of sanctioned Russian Roman Abramovic kept out of the Premier League

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New rules would also see the likes of sanctioned Russian Roman Abramovic kept out of the Premier LeagueCredit: Getty

It would mean the likes of sanctioned Russian Roman Abramovich would be kept out of the Premier League.

Fans will get a say in running clubs and stop bosses radically changing logos and kits.

Clubs will fund a regulator which will have powers to ban them from breakaway leagues.

The major shake-up will also:

  • BAN greedy clubs from joining a breakaway competition like the European Super League — which triggered huge protests by fans in 2021;
  • TAX teams an annual fee to fund the regulator and expose them to breach sanctions;
  • LET the regulator raid money from the Premier League to help prop up lower leagues.

The charter plans to tackle murky moneymen and stop them from getting their hands on our clubs — to defend teams against financial and cultural ruin.

A new regulator will enforce four tough terms clubs must meet to gain a legal license.

Teams must only take part in tournaments that have been approved by the regulator — meaning a ban on “breakaway” competitions such as the proposed European Super League.

Wannabe owners will make robust checks on their “source of wealth”.

It means multi-millionaires who cannot prove they amassed their fortune legitimately will not be allowed to complete takeovers.

The legal regulator will ensure only “fit and proper custodians” are allowed to own clubs.

This seemingly rules out oligarchs eyeing Premier League sides and grifters who have previously put smaller teams at risk.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan wants the regulator in place for the 2024/5 season and will formally unveil legislation imminently.

Under the proposals — expected to be signed off by Cabinet shortly — all clubs in the top five flights of English football would need to gain a fresh license to play from the regulator.

They would be charged a yearly levy — with richer clubs paying more and small sides less.

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But getting the permit depends on meeting tough criteria, including a rigorous vetting of prospective owners and directors.

The regulator investors would carry out due diligence checks so undesirable are prevented from staging a takeover.

Last year, Chelsea faced collapse when Abramovich was sanctioned for his links to the Kremlin after Russian leader Vladimir Putin sent his troops to invade Ukraine.

The club was banned from making a profit and only allowed to run a severely limited amount of activities so that it could carry on playing. Smaller sides like Bury F.C have suffered too. They were booted out of their league altogether after owner Steve Dale failed to show proof of funds and a takeover bid imploded.

More than 60 sides have gone bust since the Premier League was founded in 1992.

The reforms could set ministers on a collision course with clubs resistant to more regulation.

The regulator would require clubs to have deep enough pockets to stop themselves going bust — and establish a new code of conduct ensuring financial stability. Ministers hope the regulator will significantly reduce the prospect of clubs going bankrupt.

But Ms Donelan is clear that it would not guarantee that no club will fold.

In such a “worst case scenario”, the regulator will prioritize preserving its cultural heritage.

The Sun can further reveal that the regulator will have Robin Hood-style powers to take money from the mega-rich Premier League to distribute funds across lower leagues. EFL clubs earn a fraction of the cash clawed by the top-flight competition.

In 2019 Huddersfield, who finished bottom in the Premier League and were relegated, received £97million in funds — dwarfing the £8.5million awarded to promoted Championship winners Norwich.

Struggling sides in lower leagues will also get a cash boost so they do not have to rely on Hollywood A-listers — like Wrexham-backer Ryan Reynolds — to stump up much-needed funds. While the Government wants to see a “football-led resolution” by the Football Association, it plans to hand the regulator powers of last resort to distribute money if no agreement is reached.

As part of the overhaul, supporters will also be given rights in the running of their club to prevent new management from destroying its roots, like changing the logo or kit colours.

Minimum standards will be enforced so that supporters are consulted on all key legacy decisions surrounding their club.

However, despite the widespread powers, the regulator will not be able to stop soaring ticket prices or interfere with fixtures or the rules of the sport.

Plans for the controversial European Super League infuriated fans

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Plans for the controversial European Super League infuriated fansCredit: Reuters
Fans will get more say in how clubs are run under the new plans

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Fans will get more say in how clubs are run under the new plansCredit: PA
Rishi Sunak vowed to press ahead with the watchdog plans when he became PM

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Rishi Sunak vowed to press ahead with the watchdog plans when he became PMCredit: Getty

The Football White Paper, expected to be published as early as next week, follows a Government-commissioned report into the game in November 2021.

Tory MP Tracey Crouch made the case for an independent regulator in her fan-led review, which was accepted by then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

It was thrown into doubt last year when Liz Truss briefly entered No10 — with speculation that she deemed it too meddling.

But Rishi Sunak later vowed to press ahead with the watchdog plans when he became PM.

Mr Sunak has said he is a “massive football fan” and supports Premier League club Southampton FC. He was born in the port city.

However, ministers will say some of the suggestions in the review fall outside the scope of the regulator. Some fans hoping for a pint at a match will be disappointed as ministers have not settled on whether to allow alcohol in lower leagues.

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The Government is expected to kick the issue into the long grass, — acknowledging the case for alcohol pilots but saying it remains complex and should be consulted upon further.

A separate review into women’s football is due this year.

NEW LEAGUE BAR

GREEDY clubs will be forbidden from joining breakaway tournaments like the doomed European Super League.

One of the four iron-clad rules of the new regulator will limit teams to approved competitions, with other moves subject to the approval of fans and the FA.

Ministers hope this protective lock will prevent a repeat of the 2021 storm that saw six English clubs join an exclusive European league drawn up by Real Madrid’s president Florentino Perez.

They quickly bailed following uproar from fans and rival clubs.

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