Hunt for football watchdog boss on hold amid election hiatus

23 May 2024, 08:12 | Updated: 23 May 2024, 11:35

The search for an inaugural chairman for a new English football regulator is being put on hold amid expectations that legislation to introduce it will not make the pre-election cut.

Sky News understands that Whitehall officials had begun sifting through applicants to become chair of the Independent Football Regulator (IFR) when Rishi Sunak announced on Wednesday that Britain would go to the polls on 4 July.

The Football Governance Bill, which is in the intermediate stages of the legislative process, could be rushed through given that it has broad support from both major parties.

However, one Whitehall insider said on Thursday morning that the bill was "highly unlikely" to be included in a 'wash-up' of outstanding bills during the next two days.

"The bill is all but dead," they said.

Even if it did survive, the appointment process would take several months longer to conclude.

Any attempt to restart the parliamentary process after the election would necessitate a months-long delay in the regulator's establishment.

Contenders for the post

Among the names tipped to be in contention to chair the IFR were Gordon Brown, the former prime minister, and Mark Phillips, a barrister who has represented UEFA, European football's governing body.

The government had said that the new football regulator would have three primary objectives, including promoting clubs' financial sustainability and the financial resilience of English football as a whole.

It was also due to be charged with safeguarding the heritage of clubs, including their badges and traditional playing colours.

The IFR would have the power to prevent clubs from joining breakaway competitions, inspired by the putative efforts of English football's 'big six' clubs to join a European Super League.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport declined to comment on Thursday morning.