Chairman of the EFL Rick Parry is fully supportive of the government’s plan to introduce an independent regulator, speaking of a “major problem” with how wealth is currently distributed amongst clubs.
Independent regulation in the game is something that Grimsby Town chair Jason Stockwood has openly pushed for since becoming majority shareholder of the Mariners with his business partner Andrew Pettit in 2021.
Part of that drive has been the creation of Fair Game, of which Town are a founding member. Fair Game is a quickly growing coalition of football clubs striving for changes in how football is governed, with the introduction of an independent regulator part of that plan.
EFL Chief Parry’s comments come after the EFL released its own report conducted by independent researchers which measured the impact of its 72 clubs in their respective communities. The study estimates more than £865m of ‘social value’ was generated across the country last season, with 840,000 participants engaged in EFL community programmes.
With this report illustrating the importance of the long-term health of Football League clubs, pushing for a great share of wealth from the Premier League of broadcast revenues amongst other things is at the top of the agenda for Parry and the EFL.
“[Regarding the share of broadcast revenue] we are not sitting here saying ‘it’s our 25% or nothing’, but equally we think we’ve been sitting at the negotiating table patiently for 18 months,” said Parry to BBC Sport. “We are not going to negotiate against ourselves.
“We have no negotiating leverage because of the financial disparity. We don’t really have an awful lot to trade. We have a lot to talk positively about in terms of development pathways, and increasing loan opportunities.
“It would cost the Premier League about an extra £300m [a year]- that’s 8% of their wage bill – their wage bill is double every other league in Europe. So it’s not going to damage the Premier League. We’re not in the business of killing the ‘Golden Goose’. This must not be mischaracterised as hand-outs. This is the sustainability of the game.
“And why does it matter? The importance of clubs within their communities is absolutely essential. So it has been talked about for long enough. Let’s move on and get it right. If we don’t have a rethink we’ll have another Bury and be back at square one.”
The regulator the government is set to introduce is expected to be given the power to sanction clubs that break financial rules, along with a new owners’ test being introduced, and legislation added that will give fans more say in the running of the game.
The Premier League said that it currently shares 15% of its revenue with the lower divisions, but Parry believes that the current model of redistribution “isn’t sufficient”, just by looking at the growing gap between the top league and the Championship alone.
“Sustainability requires better regulation, but equally important is redistribution, because we can demonstrate two-thirds of our clubs are insolvent,” Parry added. This isn’t about horse-trading over percentages – we have two ‘cliff edges’.
“One is between the bottom of the Premier League and the top of the Championship – the gap is almost £100m – that’s almost unbridgeable. But we have another because we have the ‘parachute payments’ – so a £40m gap within the Championship. And it’s these gaps that cause irrational behaviour.
“We would like to eliminate parachute payments and we need more money. We do need major change, this isn’t about tinkering or taking a few more crumbs from the table. In the first year of the Premier League, their turnover was £45m and the EFL’s was £34m, they were £11m better off [in 1993] and it is now 3 billion better off.”