Aston Villa’s chief executive, Christian Purslow, has rejected the call for Premier League clubs to hand down substantially more money to the football pyramid and warned that over-regulation of the game risks “killing the golden goose”, as he reacted to the government’s fan-led review.
If Purslow’s response reflects widely held views across the Premier League it indicates top-flight clubs will fight against some recommendations in the report led by the Conservative MP Tracey Crouch. The report has proposed that Premier League clubs should pay a transfer tax on every fee and that an independent regulator should oversee the English game.
The government is expected to make a statement backing the report in parliament on Thursday. When it was put to Purslow that much more money should cascade down the game from the top clubs, he told Radio 4’s Today programme: “It will be difficult to do much more as the Premier League has already committed to government that in the next three years £1.6bn will, to use your verb, cascade down through the rest of football. It was ever thus.
“The pyramid has always depended on the very top of the game largely funding the ecosystem that is football and that was most obviously seen in the middle of the Covid crisis when the Premier League lent over £250m to the Championship and gifted over £50m to League One and League Two. The Premier League has always really been the source of funding for the rest of football and the danger here is of course, as you said, killing the golden goose if we over-regulate a highly successful financial and commercial operation.”
Purslow praised the report as a “phenomenally thoughtful piece of work” and said such a look at football was long overdue but he expanded on his concerns about an independent regulator. The demise of Bury in August 2019, the failed attempt to start a European Super League and the Saudi-led takeover of Newcastle have been cited as reasons for a regulator with oversight of a club’s finances and a new integrity test.
“My concern is whether the start point for this is really conflating the issue of the Burys of this world with the Super League; that perhaps it’s gone a little bit far,” Purslow said. He pointed out that the Super League idea was quickly killed off. “That was dead and buried within 48 hours. It would take 48 days probably to put together the job spec for an independent regulator.”
Purslow dismissed the idea that an independent regulator might have blocked the Newcastle deal. “We elect politicians to form foreign policy and the policy of our government is that Saudi Arabia is an ally with whom we have extensive trading relationships,” he said. “So the idea that one regulator or one executive at a league would have gone against that grain and blocked the takeover is pretty far-fetched.”