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Fair game campaign – initiative for economic equality in football

Three was a never-ending debate among football experts and fans about the gap between rich elite clubs and underdogs. Since European clubs have received huge sums of foreign investment and takeover over the past two decades, the whole scene has changed dramatically and football is no longer the same as it was before.

As the most followed sport in the world, football has become a commercial hub for business conglomerates, and it has come to the point that even national clubs like Manchester City and PSG dominate the game. The Fair Game is an initiative of the Campaign Group which aims to improve football governance in England and Wales and also to ensure equal economic opportunities at all levels.

The Fair Game Manifesto called for the establishment of an independent regulator, a fairer and more “responsible” financial structure. It focuses on better distribution of money from the Premier League to the lower leagues, changes in club accounting, embedded fan engagement, and more recognition and protection of current competitions.

A NECESSITY AND NO NECESSITY

With the increasing inflow of money, it is becoming more and more difficult to create a level playing field. UEFA published its Financial Fair Play regulations after the 2011/12 season to prevent wealthy clubs from committing “financial doping”. These regulations imply that football clubs can only spend money from their earnings and not pump money out of their owners’ pockets or other foreign investments. UEFA has maintained a limit of £ 35m in extra cash that clubs can spend on top of their earnings as long as they can get the money back soon. They call this “debt,” but not literally.

Uefa President Alexander Ceferin

Image courtesy UEFA

UEFA’s FFP regulations are often criticized for not being really effective. Experts suggest that the rules make the rich richer and the poor clubs stay down. This is because larger clubs can collect their debts commercially because they have a large following, while poorer clubs do not. UEFA is also ineffective if clubs violate its provisions.

UEFA tried to sanction Manchester City for violating fair play rules but failed to win the case in court and Manchester City got away with it. The club faced a 2-year Champions League ban and massive fine, but in July 2020 the Court of Arbitration of Sports (CAS) lifted the Manchester City ban. This was done because they met the terms of the Premier League. The national leagues in England and Wales have lenient rulebooks when it comes to financial fair play, and the fair game campaign is the revolution designed to end the monarchies.

ANDY BURNHAM SHOWS FULL SUPPORT

The Fair Game has asserted its vision in a 48-page manifesto backed by key politicians, 24 clubs and even Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham. The plan is to improve the governance, finances, regulation and conservation of English and Welsh football.

Andy Burnham

Image courtesy: The Sun

During the launch, Burnham spoke a lot for the new project. He believes that big changes are needed as soon as possible. said Burnham. “Change is necessary and what makes this initiative special is the fact that it is club-sponsored.” It seems like Burnham read the manifesto carefully and he loved to say, “It is perfectly reasonable”.

Fair Game has set up a group of experts in various sectors, including former players, Dion Dublin, Brian Deane and John Scales as ambassadors. Andy Burnham ended his speech by saying: “The game needs a fresh start and the clubs have to accept that we need it.”

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