Clause 27 - Duties to notify IFR of prospective new owner or officer

Football Governance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:00 pm ar 21 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question (this day) again proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Caroline Nokes Caroline Nokes Chair, Women and Equalities Committee, Chair, Women and Equalities Committee

I remind the Committee that with this we are considering:

Clauses 28 to 31 stand part.

New clause 3—Owner’s commitment to future use of a club’s football ground—

“(1) A person may not become or continue to be an owner of a regulated club unless they provide to the IFR a commitment to maintain long-term use of the football club’s grounds as a mandatory licensing condition.

(2) The IFR must codify the commitment.

(3) The IFR may only determine a person to be or remain a suitable owner of a club if the person has made a commitment under subsection (1).”

This new clause introduces a new licensing condition requiring an owner to provide a commitment to the future ongoing use of a football ground by a club.

Photo of Stephanie Peacock Stephanie Peacock Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

It is a pleasure to see you in the Chair this afternoon, Ms Nokes.

I will continue where I left off, looking at clause 29. I have a question for the Minister on behalf of the Football Supporters’ Association, which pointed out that fans are often privy to local information about owners and officers that might be relevant to a determination of the regulator. Does the Minister believe that the mechanisms in the clause are adequate for the regulator to take relevant input from fans and local communities when making determinations?

Clause 30 provides for cases in which a person becomes an owner or officer without the regulator having made a determination on their suitability. It is important that no loopholes allow owners to skip out of the new tests. Clause 31 gives clubs, and prospective owners and officers, the welcome opportunity to make representations to the regulator should it be minded to determine that someone is not suitable or has not passed the relevant test.

Finally, I am thankful to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield South East for highlighting, through new clause 3, just how important it is that clubs have a guarantee about the future use of their ground. The Minister agreed to write to him about that, and I look forward to seeing the response.

Photo of Clive Betts Clive Betts Chair, Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, Chair, Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, Chairman of the House of Commons Members' Fund

I am speaking in the right place this time. I was pre-emptive in my comments before the break, but that has given the Minister an opportunity to go away and look at the wording that he will come forward with to improve new clause 3.

I take the Minister’s point about the complicated circumstances for many clubs with respect to who owns the ground and what form they own it in, and that is understood. I hope that we can find a way of ensuring that, whatever the complications, the owner cannot simply put the club and the ground into different organisations—different legal constructs—but that in all cases there can be an assurance that the club will have use of the ground going forward, because otherwise the club cannot be sustainable by anyone’s definition.

I thank the Minister for agreeing to go away to look at the issue. I accept that new clause 3 is probably imperfect, and I very much look forward to a perfect clause coming back from him in due course.

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship this afternoon, Ms Nokes.

I thank hon. Members for their contributions. The hon. Member for Sheffield South East thinks I can work that quickly, just in the time we had during the break, but I have committed to write to him. Work is going on among colleagues in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, for example, but I will write to him with further details.

On the specific question of the hon. Member for Barnsley East about local information, she made an important point. Fans and other sources are able to provide information to the regulator about the suitability of their owners or officers should they wish to do so. It will of course be up to the regulator to determine the relevance and significance of any information provided to it, but the mechanism exists.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 27 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 28 to 31 ordered to stand part of the Bill.