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By ESPN Staff

MPs demand football overhaul

A selection of MPs have called for a major overhaul of the way English football is run in order to ensure the game's long-term future.

The Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee said the current Football Association Council was in need of an overhaul and warned that they are prepared to intervene, if necessary.

"As a last resort, in the absence of substantive progress, we recommend that the Government consider introducing legislation to require the FA to implement the necessary governance reforms in line with its duties as a governing body,'' a report said.

"The principle that the FA Council should act as the parliament of football is a good one. However, the FA Council as currently constructed is not fit for this purpose.

"While we acknowledge that financial regulations have been tightened of late, we are not convinced that even the new rules recently adopted by both the Premier League and the Football League are by themselves sufficient to curb English football's excesses.

"The FA, Premier League and Football League have spent too long behind the curve on ownership matters. Between them they have allowed some startlingly poor business practices to occur, and have tolerated an unacceptably low level of transparency.

"In turn, this has resulted in insolvencies, too many clubs losing their grounds to property developers, and has contributed to high levels of indebtedness throughout the league pyramid."

The committee also demanded the abolition of the Football Creditors rule requiring the new owners of insolvent clubs to repay all the money owed to key "football creditors" before they could return to league competition.

"The moral argument against it - that it harms the communities that football is supposed to serve - is persuasive on its own,'' the committee said.

"There is, though, also a compelling systemic argument against it, namely that it positively encourages excessive financial risk-taking, in a system that already offers other inducements to so do, by offering a safety net to those who seek to benefit from such practices.

"It represents a 'post facto' preferential treatment of creditors that would be illegal in the run-up to the insolvency of any business.''

The Premier League has declared it would await the Government's response before reacting to the report.

The Premier League said in a statement: "The CMS Select Committee has undertaken a lengthy and considered inquiry into the governance structures of English football, one we were happy to contribute to with both written and oral evidence.

"We, along with the other football authorities, will now consider the report's contents and await the Sports Minister's response before taking a view on the recommendations and any part the Premier League may have to play in implementing them."

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