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Will The “Fit And Proper Custodians” Test Improve English Football?

Football Stadium
Friday, 14 April 2023 By Ted Powell, Thomas Barnard, Samuel Cuthbert

On 23 February 2023, the Government published its white paper on “A sustainable future – reforming club football governance” (White Paper).1 The White Paper sets out the government’s comprehensive plan to introduce an independent regulator for professional clubs in the English football pyramid (IREF). It has been described as the biggest change in football for decades.

The White Paper follows the Fan-Led Review of Football Governance (the Crouch Review)2 and its primary strategic purpose is to ensure that English football is sustainable and resilient, for the benefit of fans and local communities (for more information, please see this article3).

The failed attempt4 to form the European Super League, the winding up5 of historical clubs like Bury and the countless other clubs that have come close to liquidation due to mismanagement are listed in the White Paper as examples of why significant change is needed in how football is governed.

This article examines the White Paper’s proposals regarding the enhanced fit and proper custodians’ test:

For a broader analysis of the White Paper as a whole, the authors highly recommend Nick De Marco KC’s comprehensive article.6

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Written by

Ted Powell

Ted Powell

Commercial Disputes Solicitor

Ted is a commercial litigation trainee solicitor at Irwin Mitchell

Thomas Barnard

Thomas Barnard

Tom is a Senior Associate Solicitor specialising in commercial litigation and sports law. He acts for a wide variety of high-profile athletes, including cricketers, footballers, gymnasts and cyclists.

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Samuel Cuthbert

Samuel Cuthbert

Samuel is a Barrister practising from chambers at Outer Temple. Samuel specialises in sports litigation, with a focus on sports injury. He is particularly interested in head injuries in sport, having spoken and written widely on the subject.

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