Good governance should bring cash rewards, body of football clubs insists

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Football clubs should be financially rewarded if they demonstrate good governance and communicate properly with their fans, according to a group of clubs that advocate 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 disturbing picture of England’s two top leagues. The index combines scores on financial stability, good governance, fan engagement and equity standards. Weeks before the expected release of the government’s plans for an independent regulator, only two Championship clubs and half of the Premier League were given a rating rated 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, and its CEO Niall Couper believes its calculations should be incorporated into any potential deal reached by a new regulator.

“We believe that things like financial sustainability, good governance, equity standards and fan engagement – ​​all elements of fan-led scrutiny – are the things that really need to be held in the highest regard in football and it shouldn’t just be about results on the pitch,” Couper said. these are the ways.

“Ultimately, we want to develop a system that starts to financially reward football clubs for good behavior. When you look at the best regulators in the country, they are the ones that encourage good behavior and that is rewarding. We have big revenues coming into the game and what we need to look at is a way to distribute funds to well-run clubs. .

“If you do that, you start getting clubs and fans saying that this sustainability score is the target score; not only because of what it measures, but also because it is financially rewarding.”

Fair Game is a strong supporter of the government’s fan-led scrutiny of football governance and has lobbied politicians to stand behind the idea of ​​a regulator. Their concerns are shared by many lawmakers, but convincing the game to adopt the ideas will be more complicated.

The Premier League and the EFL are at a stalemate over a new financial deal for professional play, something suggested by a fan-led review 15 months ago. The possibility of some kind of financial redistribution to EFL clubs, based in part on sporting merit, as in the Premier League, was discussed between the two boards, but not management-based awards. Those close to the negotiations believe this is not something many clubs would want.

Liverpool fans unfurled a banner reading 'We Won the Trophies' at Anfield.

Liverpool fans at Anfield. According to Fair Game, the club is at the top of the Premier League in terms of financial stability. Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

Sustainability chart finds Liverpool at the top of the Premier League; their position, driven by their high scores on ‘governance’ calculated using a weighted sum of ‘clear governance’, environmental measures and whether the club pays a living wage (Liverpool was first). The first Premier League club to commit to it in 2017). At the bottom of the Premier League table is Nottingham Forest, the result of a financial stability score out of 40.

Financial stability calculations take into account assets, liabilities and loans owed in the coming year, along with the key industry measure of wages as a percentage of income. Fair Game analysts said the latest financial information from the club showed Forest’s payroll was equivalent to 202% of turnover.

Norwich City topped the Championship table ahead of Burnley, the only club to score a ‘good’ rating by Fair Game’s panel of 40 experts, with an overall score of more than 60.

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