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Interviews

KELVIN THOMAS ON WHY THE CLUB ARE SUPPORTING THE FAN LED REVIEW

The Cobblers Chairman talks about the recommended changes to the game

17 December 2021

Northampton Town Chairman Kelvin Thomas has expressed the club's support for the Fan-Led Review of Football Governance.

With no game for the Cobblers this weekend, we caught up with the Chairman and he explained why the club are supportive of Tracey Crouch MP's recent review.

"As a club we certainly express our support for the findings of the review," he said.

"I thought it was a very thorough document and Tracey and her staff have done a great job of looking at the whole depth and breadth game. There are a lot of positives to come out of the report that will help the game as a whole.

"Football's biggest issue is the reliance on owner funding. Football clubs are not sustainable, some of that is because of decisions made and some of that is because of the pressure to chase success. You see it in the Championship all the time, to try and get in to the Premier League, clubs and owners make rash decisions to try and meet the demand to be successful and that creates a big problem. Some of the debt levels in the Championship are scary and external debt is the biggest danger to football clubs.

"It is easy to say that you should run a club in a sustainable way and we could do that if we as owners decided we wanted to do that but then our budget would be the lowest or second lowest in the league and we would struggle to be competitive. It is our risk as owners to try and be successful and our debt and the good thing here is that we have no external debt but overall, as an industry, football has to figure out a way to stop being reliant on owner funding.

"As wages go up and inflation pushes wages up in the Championship to compete with the Premier League that trickles down to League 1 and League 2 and that puts more pressure on owners to fund clubs to a greater and greater extent. The financial redistribution suggested in the review is very important and we support the EFL's view that a 75:25 distribution model is right.

"That would support the pyramid and I think the pyramid is essential to football in this country. Promotion and relegation up and down the pyramid is essential and one of the reasons why the Premier League has been so successful.

"More money on its own will not solve the issue. You have to have spending controls alongside and we would support a financial redistribution model alongside spending controls. Then it has to be regulated and policed and there has to be punishments for those breaking the limits.

"It is also important that football has an independent regulator. I believe if you sort out the financial situation then most of the issues a regulator would look at would take care of themselves anyway but for us to get the financial redistribution situation a regulator is important. If football can't sort this out for ourselves then the regulator will need to step in.

"The review is also in favour of greater fan involvement. We feel we already engage very strongly with our fanbase, probably more than a lot of other clubs. We saw some of this in the early stages of the report and we took what Tracey Crouch was working on and have already put some of that in to place. In recent weeks, fans have voted on next season's kit, on the East Stand and an elected director. Having that elected director position in place is great and having Tom Cliffe on the board as a person has already proved very valuable.

"Tom engages and talks to so many people and he is an excellent barometer of the views of the supporters and the wider fan base.

"Let's just take the East Stand for example. As owners we feel we always have the best interests of the club at heart and to be able to put the plans out to the fanbase alongside the detail and to get such an overwhelming response of support back was great. You can't get any better than that or any stronger message than that. What was impressive, aside from the result, was the number of people who voted and engaged with the process.

"We have good relationships with our local MPs and we would encourage supporters to contact their MP to express their support for the Fan Led Review too. It is a supporter led document with input from a lot of supporters and we do need supporters to show their support for the review.

"I think the Premier League has to accept the pyramid has been part of the Premier League’s success. This is not a charity hand out we are looking at, this is a sensible redistribution to support the pyramid for the good of the game. We have seen ourselves the likes of Kyle Walker, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Ivan Toney start their careers in the EFL with us and there is an overall responsibility to the game from the Premier League. If there is a disagreement on the findings of the review I think it will be with Premier League owners and CEOs, it won't be with fans of Premier League clubs as I think supporters of Premier League clubs understand the value of the pyramid to the English game."

Want to show your support for the Fan Led Review of football?

Fair Game have created a template letter for supporters to send to their MP and this can be accessed here while a list of Northamptonshire's MPs is below with their contact details.

WELLINGBOROUGH
Peter Bone
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA
bonep@parliament.uk

NORTHAMPTON NORTH
Michael Ellis
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA
michael.ellis.mp@parliament.uk

DAVENTRY
Chris Heaton-Harris
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA
chris.heatonharris.mp@parliament.uk

KETTERING
Philip Hollobone
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA
philip.hollobone.mp@parliament.uk

SOUTH NORTHAMPTONSHIRE
Andrea Ledsom
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA
andrea.leadsom.mp@parliament.uk

NORTHAMPTON SOUTH
Andrew Lewer
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA
andrew.lewer.mp@parliament.uk

CORBY
TOM PURSGLOVE
House of Commons
London
SW1A 0AA
tom.pursglove.mp@parliament.uk

If you live outside of Northamptonshire, a full list of MPs and their contact details is here.


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