Shabana Mahmood MP Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood
It was very concerning to read that Birmingham City has been charged with more alleged breaches of EFL regulations. I know many fans will be worried about points deductions and what this means for the club financially.
This is the latest in a long line of problems that are plaguing Blues. With a an over-reliance on parent companies bailing it out of financial trouble, a crumbling stadium, crippling debts and a far removed, invisible ownership – the club continues to swing from crisis to crisis.
BCFC is steeped in history and with a heritage that Brummies across the city are proud of. Fans should not have to sit back and watch with devastation as their beloved club is driven to the brink.
That is why we desperately need an independent regulator, strengthened owners and directors test and a greater role for fans in the fate of their club.
I have long been campaigning for an independent regulator and spoken at length on this issue in Parliament – watch my speech here: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/05443e0b-89c4-4611-8506-6687b3cdc7d9?in=19:08:46
It is therefore welcome that after months of delay and leaks to the media, the government has finally published its plans for the regulation of English football. It is welcome that this includes plans for an independent regulator that will operate a licencing scheme and a proper say for fans.
But I am concerned when the government says it will introduce the relevant legislation “when parliamentary time allows”. That could mean anything, and we could still be waiting for it months from now.
In the months it’s taken the Conservatives to finally publish a football white paper, BCFC has undergone two failed takeover attempts and been slapped with more regulation breaches. Derby County nearly went under, Oldham Athletic was relegated, and the Premier League and EFL still haven’t reached a deal on finances.
Nothing will change until the Regulator is in place. The government must urgently bring forward legislation, or else take responsibility for any clubs that go under, spiral into decline or are bought by unsuitable new owners, in the years they’ve wasted bringing the regulator.
Many of my constituents and BCFC fans are terrified the club is going to get run into the ground before the Government gets its act together and implements these much needed and long overdue changes.
As soon as I learned about the issues at Birmingham City, on everything from the crumbling stadium to the financial mess that the club is in, I have fought for fans to be heard. Football clubs are more than just sports grounds – they are important heritage assets intertwined with our local history and steeped emotion and pride for local people.
Fans need a say in how their clubs are run and it is down to the Government to ensure their voice is heard. Too often, fans are locked out of discussions, and deals which affect the whole community are done entirely behind closed doors. That has to end.
I will continue to make sure that fans are listened to and pushing for BCFC to finally turn things around. In the meantime, if there is ever a problem you need help with – football related or otherwise, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me and my team.