Over 100 Gainsborough football fans sign petition for reform

More than 150 people in Gainsborough have helped trigger an upcoming Parliamentary debate over the introduction of an independent regulator for football.

A petition, sparked by controversial plans for a European Super League which emerged in April, has been backed by more than 140,000 fans across the UK, alongside a number of high-profile former players, including Gary Neville and Gary Lineker.

As of 2pm on Wednesday (June 9) 175 people in the constituency of Gainsborough had signed the petition.

They were among 9,600 from across the East Midlands – which has the second-least signatures of England's nine regions.

The proposals – which call for an independent regulator in the English game by the end of the year – will be debated by MPs in Westminster on Monday, June 14.

The petition's creator said a regulator would "safeguard our beautiful game" from another Super League breakaway attempt – which involved six of the biggest English sides – or other efforts to "put money ahead of fans".

A call for action also came in an open letter signed by a number of former players and journalists, including Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Lineker.

Fair Game, a new collection of football clubs calling for reform of the sport's governance, said the time for an independent regulator has come and that the Government should not waste this opportunity.

Niall Couper, director of the organisation, said: "Some owners are playing Russian roulette with the futures of their clubs with scant regards for the communities and traditions that they are putting at risk.

"Football has had decades to get it right and failed to deliver.

"We need an independent regulator to finally sort it out and make our national game fit for purpose and something that our communities can be proud of."

The foundation of the Super League prompted the Conservative Government to bring forward a fan-led review it promised in its 2019 General Election manifesto.

The review, which is being led by former sports minister Tracey Crouch, is currently ongoing, involving meetings with fans from a wide range of clubs.

It will assess the need for an independent regulator, with a preliminary report expected in the summer and a full verdict in the autumn.

The Football Supporters Association said the debate will keep up the pressure for the reform of football governance, which the current fan-led review is considering.

A spokesman for the FSA added: "We'd encourage everyone to contact their MP and ask that they support fans in our calls to fix football.

"Supporters want independent regulation, wealth redistribution and for the fan voice to be at the heart of all clubs."

A second petition, which is calling for increased fan ownership of English teams, will also be debated in Parliament on June 14.

In Gainsborough, 84 people backed a change in the law which would follow the German Bundesliga model and force professional clubs to give at least 51% ownership to fans.