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Football Governance Bill Committee MPs urged “to save football” as Ebbsfleet United, Maidstone United and Tonbridge Angels join forces

Three Kent clubs have called on Kent MPs to “help save football”.

Tracey Crouch, MP for Chatham and Aylesford, and Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, are both members of the Football Governance Bill Committee.

Maidstone United co-owner Oliver Ash. Picture: Steve Terrell
Maidstone United co-owner Oliver Ash. Picture: Steve Terrell

The committee will start to look at the bill line by line on Tuesday, covering issues such as football finances, owners and directors test and 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 a Maidstone or Tonbridge in the National League South.

“The problem fundamentally is that those making the decisions don’t care about the rest of the football pyramid,” said Maidstone co-owner Oliver Ash.

“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.”

Ebbsfleet chief executive Damian Irvine 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, 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 reflected divisional attendances, then clubs like us would get nearly 200 times more.

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

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.

“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.”

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