Could a Transfer Tax Preserve the Future of Lower League Football?

Football Player Negotiating a Transfer DealA fan-led review into the present and future of football has recommended that Premier League clubs pay a 10% tax on their transfer deals – a levy that would then be trickled down through the sport’s pyramid.

Quite how the stamp duty style taxation would be introduced and policed remains to be seen, but that is just one of the 47 recommendations that the consultation – led by Conservative MP Tracey Crouch – has detailed.

The report also calls on the government to introduce an independent regulator to oversee football in England, specifically with the power to accept or reject licence applications from prospective overseas owners. That appears to be a direct response to Newcastle United’s takeover by Saudi Arabian investors, which many believe is contrary to the best interests of the sport.

The regulator would also be given full powers to inspect a club’s books – that would help to combat many of the Financial Fair Play breaches that the likes of Manchester City and Derby County have been charged with; the latter’s mere existence now at threat due to their over-spending.

Another, similar recommendation would be that prospective owners would have to pass a more stringent integrity test – the like of which are already employed in the business and media sectors.

Crouch believes the recommendations arising from the consultation would secure the ‘long term’ future of football at all levels.

“I genuinely think that what we’ve set out in the report is good for the game,” she said. “It will set out a long-term sustainable position for English football.

“I think it will encourage growth and investment and I think it will drive improvements across the game that have been required for many years, decades in fact.”

Before any or all of the ideas are brought into power, the government will first meet to discuss the outcomes of the report. For those proposals they favour, the necessary legislation could be introduced as early as next spring.

Fan Ownership, Booze, Equality & Diversity

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To suggest that the findings of the report are wide-ranging would be an understatement, with topics ranging from equality in football to booze on the terraces up for debate.

One of the central topics discussed was that of club ownership, specifically the power wielded by individuals and ownership groups. The consultation speaks of limiting the powers that new owners – i.e. those that haven’t been in charge for a specified period of time – would have limits applied to how much money they can invest in a club, therefore keeping their shareholding to a lower percentage.

There would also be a limit placed on how much they could invest relating to the club’s existing finances, bringing an end to ‘overnight riches’ as seen in the Newcastle United scenario.

Fans want to retain some control in their clubs, and so the idea of a ‘golden share’ has been raised – this would veto an owner from making major changes, such as changing its name or kit colours or selling its ground.

A number of recommendations will seek to address equality, diversity and inclusivity issues in football, while a wholesale review into the present and future of women’s football has been advised.

Another noteworthy topic was the proposal to allow alcohol to be consumed in the stands during a game – a trial introduction has been suggested.