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Trust Statement: White Paper on Football

This morning the Government published its long-awaited White Paper on Football, in response to the recommendations of the Fan-Led Review published in November 2021.

The Exeter City Supporters’ Trust welcomes the publication of the White Paper and the proposals put forward within the document, including the introduction of an Independent Regulator to oversee the financial sustainability of the game and put fans back at the heart of how football is run.

The Club will host a key member of the Football Supporters' Association (FSA), who played an integral part in the drafting of the White Paper, at the next Club Board meeting to help the Board further understand the finer details of the document.

Following the release of the White Paper this morning, Trust Chairman Nick Hawker commented: “The importance of today cannot be underestimated, nor the appointment of an Independent Regulator.

"The publication of the White Paper represents the start, not the end of a process. Where we, football, go from here will determine the future of the game, including, I hope, a fairer redistribution of football wealth.

We will be sure to keep our members up to speed as we understand more the implications for Exeter City.”

As part of the Fan-Led Review in 2021, Nick, alongside then Chair of the Club Board, Richard Pym, presented on the ownership model at Exeter City FC to Tracey Crouch MP, Chair of the Fan-Led Review, and a panel of experts. The Presentation Pack from this meeting was made available to fans shortly afterwards.

Speaking after the presentation to MP Crouch in 2021, Nick said: “The great benefit of the Trust model is that it is a democratic organisation and, ultimately, it is the supporters of the Club that will shape and decide its destiny."

Some of the key proposals of the White Paper include:

  • The introduction of a new Independent Regulator to help prevent a repeat of the financial failings seen at Derby County, Bury and Macclesfield Town.

  • Implementation of a new licensing system from the top flight down to the National League, requiring clubs to demonstrate sound financial business models and good corporate governance.

  • A strengthened Owners’ and Directors’ Test to protect clubs and their fans from unscrupulous owners.

  • Guarantees for fans to have a greater say in the strategic running of their clubs.

  • Protection of clubs’ heritage to stop owners from changing names, badges, and home shirt colours without consulting fans, and requiring regulator approval and fan engagement as part of any sale or relocation of the stadium.

  • Powers to block English clubs from joining unpopular breakaway leagues like the European Super League.

Kevin Miles, Chief Executive of the FSA, said: "The FSA engaged in the Fan-Led Review from day one and we warmly welcome the historic commitment from the Government to introduce an independent regulator of English football.

"The football governance White Paper clearly addresses our key concerns around ownership, rogue competitions and sustainability and of course we support any proposals that offer fans a greater voice in the running of their clubs.

"We look forward to engaging with the Government on the next steps."

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