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Election likely to trigger tougher football regulation

Tue 4th May 2010 | Football Club Administration

English football could face tougher financial regulation under a Conservative government, the party’s spokesman for sport has said.

Portsmouth became the first-ever Premier League club to enter administration this year with debts now said to be £119m, while many lower league clubs have suffered the same fate and Chester City was wound up in March.

In an interview with Reuters ahead of Thursday’s (March 6) election, Hugh Robertson said: “Football clubs will always go bust – I'm afraid sadly from time to time this will happen. But I am just not convinced at the moment that the regulatory regime around football is as tough as it should be to prevent it happening."

Robertson, who could be sports minister if the Conservatives win the election, wants the Premier League, Football Association and Football League to tackle the issue by tightening the 'fit and proper person' test for club owners.

He also wants greater financial transparency, controls on the level of debt clubs are allowed to carry, and independent governance, Reuters reports.

The game's bodies have been given until the end of the summer to come up with their own ideas. Failure to do so will mean the government will "have to intervene”.

Robertson added: "I am not entirely decided yet whether that would be by means of primary legislation or whether simply we set up and put an independent football regulator into motion, which you could do much more quickly.”

The ruling Labour Party is proposing to make it easier for supporters' groups to buy stakes in clubs while allowing greater scrutiny of takeovers.

Meanwhile, Robertson played down fears that a change of government would affect plans for the London 2012 Olympics.

"I have been very closely involved in the delivery of the Olympics from the word go," he said. "And of course we are already, as a party, quite wrapped up in it."

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