The need to change how wealth is redistributed across professional football in Europe, following the crisis caused by COVID-19, was the main topic of a PACE parliamentary hearing on solidarity in the sport.
Representatives from all sides of the game – the world and European governing bodies, leagues, clubs, players and fans – debated the way forward following what was described as “a very forced reset” of finances caused by the pandemic.
Topics tackled at the virtual hearing, organised by PACE’s Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, included a reported proposal for a new Super League, UEFA’s “solidarity payments”, broadcasting rights and revenues, funding for women’s leagues, the transfer system and the role of agents, and how to ensure the long-term sustainability of smaller clubs.
Views ranged from the need for “bold and potentially difficult decisions” in the wider interest of the game, to calls for more gradual change of a funding model that – while under pressure – was fundamentally sound.
The hearing also looked at protecting and developing young footballers, including safeguarding against trafficking and sexual abuse, and how better to involve grassroots groups and fans in the governance of the game.
The hearing will contribute to a major report into football governance being prepared for PACE by Lord Foulkes of Cumnock (United Kingdom, SOC), a former Chairman of Heart of Midlothian Football Club.