BY SAM SMITH
Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson has said that suggestions made by a radical proposal to restructure the governance of English football should be taken seriously.
David Bernstein, a former chairman of the Football Association, and the ex-England defender Gary Neville have put forward ‘Saving the Beautiful Game’, a manifesto that calls for independent regulation of English football.
The report – also supported by the athlete Denise Lewis and the Mayor for Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham – claims that the Football Association: “lacks credibility and has proved to be largely ineffective as a governing body. It has not modernised and is not sufficiently independent.”
‘Saving the Beautiful Game’ wants Parliamentary legislation that prompts reformed independent governance, a redistribution of wealth and a review of the causes of financial strain in the EFL.
The report follows ‘Project Big Picture’ – a proposal that aimed to give the Premier League’s so-called ‘big six’ greater power. It also wanted to scrap both the EFL Cup and the Community Shield. However, that was voted down by Premier League clubs last week.
Neville is the co-owner of League Two Salford City but was a member of Hodgson’s coaching team when he was England manager.
Hodgson said: “I don’t want to speak at any real length about Project Big Picture because that has already been kyboshed by the Premier League. They had a meeting last week and the plan that was on the table, which has been named Big Picture, was thrown out quite comprehensively by the Premier League. There is no reason to talk about that at all.
“The Saving the Beautiful Game project, which was chaired by David Bernstein, a man for whom I have an awful lot of respect, has a lot of people on the panel for whom I have a lot of respect such as Gary Neville, Andy Burnham… people who I know or have come across who I know a little bit about.
“The project that they have put forward is a very interesting one and it is absolutely worthy of a lot of debate, but I have not prepared myself to join in with that debate other than to suggest that it is well thought out, well researched, and [it has] plenty of statistics to back it up. There are things they are saying which I hope the footballing authorities will take seriously and will look into it. But I’m afraid I’m not prepared to go further than that.”
Further financial aid for EFL clubs has been widely discussed recently, particularly with clubs losing a key revenue stream because of their matches being played behind closed doors.
Hodgson continued: “I am concerned [about EFL clubs]. But I am also concerned about the growing unemployment figures, the amount of shops that I pass in high streets which have had to close down, the amount of businesses that are going to be lost to Coronavirus. I am concerned about all of those things.
“Being in football, it is a matter of particular concern what is happening to these clubs. It is quite apposite that in these times a manifesto has been put forward that will look into the governance of the game because in the crisis of a situation that so many people find themselves in, it was the right moment to bring the subject up again and look at it in much closer detail.”
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