UK Government fan-led review says Premier League clubs should pay transfer tax

Confirmed in the review is recommendation for independent regulator in English game

Aston Villa’s chief executive, Christian Purslow, has rejected the call for Premier League clubs to hand down substantially more money to the football pyramid and warned that over-regulation of the game risks “killing the golden goose”, as he reacted to the government’s fan-led review.

If Purslow’s response reflects widely held views across the Premier League it indicates top-flight clubs will fight against some recommendations in the report led by the Conservative MP Tracey Crouch. The report has proposed that Premier League clubs should pay a transfer tax on every fee and that an independent regulator should oversee the English game.

The government on Thursday welcomed the report and backed the creation of an independent regulator. When it was earlier put to Purslow that much more money should cascade down the game from the top clubs, he told Radio 4’s Today programme: “It will be difficult to do much more as the Premier League has already committed to government that in the next three years £1.6bn will, to use your verb, cascade down through the rest of football. It was ever thus.

“The pyramid has always depended on the very top of the game largely funding the ecosystem that is football and that was most obviously seen in the middle of the Covid crisis when the Premier League lent over £250m to the Championship and gifted over £50m to League One and League Two. The Premier League has always really been the source of funding for the rest of football and the danger here is of course, as you said, killing the golden goose if we over-regulate a highly successful financial and commercial operation.”


Purslow praised the report as a “phenomenally thoughtful piece of work” and said such a look at football was long overdue but he expanded on his concerns about an independent regulator. The demise of Bury in August 2019, the failed attempt to start a European Super League and the Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle have been cited as reasons for a regulator with oversight of a club’s finances and a new integrity test.

“My concern is whether the start point for this is really conflating the issue of the Burys of this world with the Super League; that perhaps it’s gone a little bit far,” Purslow said. He pointed out that the Super League idea was quickly killed off.

Purslow dismissed the idea that an independent regulator might have blocked the Newcastle deal. “We elect politicians to form foreign policy and the policy of our government is that Saudi Arabia is an ally with whom we have extensive trading relationships,” he said. “So the idea that one regulator or one executive at a league would have gone against that grain and blocked the takeover is pretty far-fetched.”

The government will present a formal response to the review in the new year. The sports minister, Nigel Huddleston, speaking in response to an urgent question in parliament on the review, said: “There were problems in football governance and the voice of fans was not always being heard. The final report is a thorough and detailed examination of the challenges facing English football and is clear that reform is need to solve them.

“The government will fully and formally respond to this independent report in the new year. The primary recommendation of the review, that football requires a strong independent regulator, is a recommendation that I and the government endorse in principle today.”

Pushed by the shadow secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, Jo Stevens, on why an endorsement was only in principle, Huddleston said he could not “pre-empt every single response from government” but insisted that engagement with the review would be swift and that he was “very hopeful we’ll all get a positive outcome”.

In response to the Conservative MP Damian Collins, Huddleston appeared to suggest that one of the key powers recommended for the regulator - the ability to monitor the finances of football clubs in real time - would be adopted by government. “We could not have any regulation without adequate powers [and that] includes real-time access,” Huddleston said.

– Guardian