Gordon Brown has warned that the ‘runaway greed’ of Premier League owners will ruin English football if the Government does not adopt the sweeping reforms recommended in a review of the national game.

The former Prime Minister said professional football needs an independent regulator to scrutinise its club owners and prevent teams being ‘destroyed’ by the unscrupulous among them. He also lent his support for a transfer tax in the Premier League and the ownership model that grants fans a ‘golden share’ in their club.

Brown is arguably the highest-profile political figure to intervene in the debate over how football’s governance should be reformed to safeguard its future.

Premier League owners' greed threatens to derail the top flight by refusing to accept new reforms, according to Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown says that Premier League owners are greedy and could cause the demise of top flight. They refuse to embrace new reforms.

This former Labour leader was Chancellor of Exchequer for 10 years before he became Prime Minister in 2010. A committed supporter of Raith Rovers, his local club in Kirkcaldy, he addressed the domestic game’s ownership issues during his time in office and warned clubs of their mounting debt.

His exclusive column in The Mail on Sunday today highlights his continuing concerns after owners of several Premier League clubs, notably Leeds United and Aston Villa, opposed key tenets of Tracey Crouch’s review of the sport.

These included the proposal for an independent regulator and a 10 per cent transfer levy, with clubs understood to prefer an oversight body that would remain within football’s administrative structure. Richard Masters, the Premier League chief executive, has also suggested that aspects of Crouch’s review were too radical.

‘The Premier League’s implacable opposition to sensible reforms that will, for once, put the aspirations of the fans and grassroots football ahead of the greed of billionaire owners is yet another reason why it is time to seize an unparalleled opportunity to force through change,’ writes Brown.

The former Prime Minister believes the Premier League need an independent regulator to keep English football in check

Former Prime Minister says the Premier League needs an independent regulator in order to maintain control over English football 

‘Runaway greed, made possible by what often seems like a free- for-all in club ownership and poor overall supervision, is in danger of destroying the best football league in the world and all that is good about the game.’

In response to opposition to European Super League proposals, Crouch was appointed by the Government to head the fan-led committee. Plans that did not include relegation were signed by six Premier League clubs.

Published in November, Crouch’s review laid out 47 recommendations designed to safeguard the football pyramid and prevent the elite from attempting to distance themselves from the lower echelons again. Brown states that most of the suggestions are agreeable in his column.

On the proposed levy on Premier League transfers, he explains that even a five per cent tax could generate £80 million for the grassroots game. To prevent owner from making unwelcome changes such as changing the name of the team or closing a stadium, he believes fans should have a share in club ownership.

He fears 'the best league in the world' could be dismantled if new proposals were not agreed

He is concerned that the ‘best league in world football’ might be defunct if there aren’t new proposals 

Also, he proposes his own legislative changes. He suggests that gambling company tax be increased from 15% to 20%, and the additional tens of million generated by betting on football be reinvested into the Premier League. Crouch, the Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford, welcomed Brown’s intervention and said her review had earned the widespread backing of politicians because mismanagement in elite football stretched back decades.

‘There has been cross-party support for the report’s recommendations and their urgent implementation, in part because there is universal recognition that politicians over the years have been let down by the football authorities who promised to reform themselves but then failed,’ she told The Mail on Sunday.

‘This happened throughout the Blair/Brown era and continued post 2010. The former PM’s support is a welcome recognition that the report recommends positive change that will continue to enable growth at the top of English football while supporting the rest of the pyramid and grassroots football.’

A government review has identified a number of possible new measures, including fan ownership, transfer levies and an independent regulator

An independent review by the government has revealed a variety of potential new measures including fan ownership, transfer levies, and an independent regulator.

Nadine Dorries, the Culture Secretary, said the Government endorsed the independent regulator ‘in principle’ and it is expected to pass into law. Her office is working through the other conclusions in Crouch’s report and is hoping to publish a substantive response in the spring.

White papers based on an examination of gambling laws are also planned by the government. It will address the betting industry’s relationship with sport but whether it will set out a legislative change as radical as the one Brown has suggested remains to be seen.

For the former Prime Minister, however, only root-and-branch reform will ensure that the game’s grassroots are not perilously cut adrift from the rich elite.

Former sports minister Tracey Crouch has led the review but some clubs have resisted it

Tracey Crouch, a former sports minister, has conducted the review. However some clubs have refused to participate. 

‘Small clubs,’ he writes, ‘must not be neglected or starved. We must end the corruption that has disfigured football. Profiteer owners are too comfortable in their way and have taken the profit train to every stop, cowering fans. The proposals in the Crouch review will put the brakes on.’

At the time of the review’s publication, the Premier League said they would study its recommendations and work with stakeholders including the Government, the FA and fans on the issues it addressed. 

In response to this newspaper, they also highlighted their pledge to fund the wider football pyramid to the tune of £1.6 billion over the next three years and the £3.6bn in tax which they and their clubs contributed to the economy in 2019-20.