London – Premier League clubs should pay a transfer tax to support the pyramid of English clubs and be subject to an independent regulator, a fan-led review of football governance has recommended.
The wide-ranging review commissioned by the British government has called for changes to be made by an act of parliament to ensure the financial sustainability of the men’s professional game.
Among the other recommendations are a “golden share” veto power for supporters’ groups on key issues such as clubs attempting to enter breakaway competitions like the failed European Super League (ESL) project, moving stadium or changing club colours.
However, the most eye-catching recommendation from the panel, led by Conservative MP Tracey Crouch, was to provide additional support for the football pyramid via a “solidarity transfer levy” on deals between Premier League clubs or signings from overseas.
“Given the vast wealth at the top of football, the continued levels of investment, the growth of international broadcast deals, and the leadership of the game it provides (domestically and internationally) it is not unreasonable that the Premier League supports wider football to an even greater level,” said the report.
“The review considered that the most progressive intervention is a new solidarity transfer levy paid by Premier League clubs on buying players from overseas or from other Premier League clubs.
“This would work in a similar way to stamp duty and distribute revenues across the pyramid and into grassroots.”
Stamp duty is a tax paid on property purchases in Britain.
However, the report did not recommend the percentage that the levy should be set at but stated that clubs had spent £9.9 billion on transfer fees over the last five years.
“If a 10 percent levy had been applied in that period, excluding transfers from EFL clubs, an estimated £160 million per year could have been raised for distribution,” it said.
“This level of support, annually, could be game-changing to the pyramid.”
The independent regulator would take over responsibility for administering the owners’ and directors’ tests from the Premier League, English Football League and the Football Association.
There would be separate tests for owners and directors but both would contain “integrity tests” requiring individuals to demonstrate their “good character”.
The report did not specify whether human rights issues would be considered within the test, which has been called for by Amnesty International following the controversy around the Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle.
The government promised a fan-led review as part of its 2019 general election manifesto.
That pledge followed the collapse of lower league club Bury, and the decision to bring it forward was influenced by the short-lived formation the ESL in April.
“We have been fully engaged with the review since its inception and recognise its importance for English football,” the Football Association said.
“We will digest the report in full and will continue to liaise with the government on potential solutions to the topics and recommendations that have been made.”