Three Kent football clubs – Ebbsfleet United, Maidstone United and Tonbridge Angels – joined forces today to call on Kent MPs Tracey Crouch and Damian Collins to help save football. Crouch, the MP for Chatham and Aylesford, and Collins, the MP for Folkestone and Hythe, are both members of the Football Governance Bill Committee.

Tomorrow (Tues 21 May), the Committee begins to look through the Football Governance Bill line by line. The Bill will decide on the future of our National Game, including such issues as:

  • The financial flow in football;
  • The owners and directors test;
  • Protecting club heritage; and even
  • FA Cup replays.

Ebbsfleet United, Maidstone United and Tonbridge Angels are all members of Fair Game, a group that is campaigning for fairer governance in football.

Currently, the Broadcasting deal is worth £3.19bn a year, but according to Fair Game research for every £1,000 that goes to a Premier League club, 57p goes to a National League side like Ebbsfleet, and just 14p to Maidstone United and Tonbridge Angels in the National League South.

Damian Irvine, CEO of Ebbsfleet United, said:

“Football needs a reset. The gaps in the pyramid are getting wider and wider each year. And it is making it harder and harder for clubs like us to survive and compete.

“The Bill at the moment leaves football’s financial flow firmly in the hands of the existing authorities.”

David Netherstreet, chair of Tonbridge Angels, added:

“We are not asking for radical change. We want a proper independent assessment. The new regulator should have the powers to set the parameters that any broadcasting deal must meet – and that should include narrowing the gaps and rewarding well-run clubs.

“The distribution serves the elite. If the amount given actually reflected divisional attendances, then clubs like us would get nearly 200 times more.

“And for a hard-working community clubs like ourselves that would make a huge difference to the fans and communities we serve.”

Oliver Ash, co-owner of Maidstone United, said:

“The problem fundamentally is that those making the decisions don’t care about the rest of the football pyramid. They haven’t listened. We’ve seen that just recently with the FA Cup replays debacle.

“The football authorities didn’t listen to the fans, and they certainly didn’t consult a vast number of the clubs in the pyramid.

“The big decisions – and that includes on football finance – need to go to an independent regulator.”

Niall Couper, CEO of Fair Game, said:

“It’s brilliant to see Kent football clubs come together in this way. The future of football really hangs in the balance. We need a regulator with real teeth that can make a difference to how our national game operates and crucially how it is funded.

“The fans and communities of Ebbsfleet, Maidstone, Tonbridge and so many other clubs across the county and the country deserve so much better.

“Our call to Tracey Crouch and Damian Collins – the two Kent MPs on the Committee – is be the heroes we know you can be. Help save football. And deliver for the fans and communities of Kent’s football clubs. Give the regulator the financial powers it needs to make a real difference.”

By Ed

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