IEA - Football regulator would put countrys most successful export at risk

From: Think Tanks
Published: Fri Feb 03 2023

Professor Len Shackleton, IEA Editorial and Research Fellow, and author of the report Red Card, commented on the revival of plans to set up a new independent football regulator

It appears that the government is to resuscitate Tracey Crouch's scheme to impose an independent' regulator on the country's most successful export ever, professional football.

Regulating an industry imposes compliance costs and disincentives to investment and innovation. It hasn't protected industries such as energy, water and financial services from regular crises and increased costs to consumers. There are usually unintended and unforeseen consequences which create new problems. Football will be no different.

The Crouch Review was concerned that football is inherently financially unstable as clubs overspend. But it ignored a history which shows that very few clubs ever close permanently: the industry is almost unique in that most businesses in operation a century ago are still around today.

Crouch recommended a package of measures which would impose substantial restrictions on property rights which would likely be challenged in the courts. They include arbitrary taxation' of Premier League clubs, fundamental changes to governance structures, and restrictions on ownership on non-economic grounds.

These measures have long been advocated by the political left and are now being hyped by vote-seeking Conservative politicians. They are unlikely to generate the benefits lobbyists have suggested.

The imposition of supporter organisation vetos would encourage the worst sort of populist politicking, and raise serious questions about the representativeness of these bodies in a globalised football environment where fanbases transcend national frontiers.

Governments over the years have ruined many successful domestic industries. Interference in football could well have the same doleful effect. We have enough problems for the government to sort out before it interferes in yet another area of economic and social life.

Notes to editors

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In March 2022, the IEA published Red Card, which argued against proposals for a state football regulator. The paper can be read here:

The mission of the Institute of Economic Affairs is to improve understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society by analysing and expounding the role of markets in solving economic and social problems. The IEA is a registered educational charity and independent of all political parties.

Company: Think Tanks

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