The former Football Association chairman David Bernstein and other grandees are expected to make an intervention on Thursday in the escalating battle over the game’s organisational future, by calling for independent regulation.
It will be far from the first time Bernstein has expressed this view since he ended his stint as chairman in 2013, but the idea this time is understood to be fleshed out in a report worked up over six months with a small group of people independent of the FA.
They have so far not been named, except for David Davies, the former executive director of the FA until 2006, who has been centrally involved. The idea of independent regulation has been discussed for decades and proposed by supporter representative groups, but always opposed by the FA and leagues, including when Bernstein was the chairman.
In 2016 Bernstein and two other former FA chairmen, Greg Dyke and David Triesman, with Davies and the former FA chief executive Alex Horne, publicly called for independent regulation, saying their own experience had shown them the FA was incapable of protecting the wider game from the “financial might” of the Premier League.
The proposal now has extra appeal given the disruption caused this week by the emergence of Project Big Picture, the plan developed by Liverpool and Manchester United, with the EFL chairman, Rick Parry. It would cement Premier League voting power in the hands of the “big six” clubs, while also proposing the Premier League pays the EFL the £250m Parry says the 72 clubs need to cope with the immediate coronavirus crisis, and 25% of TV money, a redistribution greater than any since the 1992 Premier League breakaway.
The FA chairman, Greg Clarke, has publicly opposed the plan and said the game’s “key stakeholders” should work together, but Bernstein, Davies and their group will argue that the FA itself has long been unable to be a robust governing body of the professional game.