Premier League clubs could put themselves “1-0 up” in negotiations around a transfer levy by introducing one in the forthcoming January window, fan-led review chair Tracey Crouch has told MPs.
The review highlighted the benefits to the grassroots game of a levy of up to 10 per cent on Premier League clubs signing players from overseas or from top-flight rivals.
The idea of a levy has been heavily criticised by some Premier League bosses, including Leeds chief executive Angus Kinnear who compared it to Maoist collective agriculturalism.
Crouch said the league could introduce a smaller levy right away and strengthen their position in the negotiations, and warned the league a review under a future, more left-leaning Government may take a harder line than the one she chaired.
“I didn’t say what (the levy) should be or where it should go. But frankly football could make this decision tomorrow,” she told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee.
“They could actually decide they are going to put in a three per cent – for example – levy, starting in January, and that it was going to go to grassroots and player welfare.
“That would, to continue a football analogy, effectively put them 1-0 up and park the team bus in front of goal.
“I would encourage them to do that. Ultimately we all operate in an environment of flux. I think I have been very reasonable in what I have recommended as part of this football review, but if there was to be an election and God forbid the Conservative Party wasn’t re-elected, then if you want to see communism or Maoism in place in terms of a Premier League transfer levy – wait and see, right?
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— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 30, 2021
“As the Premier League, you could introduce it now and you could say you’ve done it, and it’s done.”
Crouch said the criticism of the levy was “interesting” given that it had been proposed by a Premier League club.
Premier League clubs argue the imposition of a levy would make it tougher for them to compete in the transfer market, and point to the fact there is already a four per cent levy on deals which supports former players and the academy system.
Crouch told the committee she expected the Premier League to “push back very, very hard” on the central review recommendation – the creation of an independent regulator with statutory powers.
But she said she “knew for sure” some Premier League clubs were in favour of such a regulator.
Crystal Palace chairman Steve Parish said the adoption of the proposals would be a “huge act of self-harm” and Aston Villa chief executive Christian Purslow warned over-regulation had the potential to “kill the golden goose”.
Crouch rejected Purslow’s assertion that over-regulation would be destructive and added: “The report as a whole is about enabling confidence in the system. And what we have at the moment is a system that is subject to vulnerabilities.
“If you can remove some of those vulnerabilities through better financial regulation, that actually encourages growth and investment in English football.”
The Government, which commissioned the fan-led review in April in the wake of the European Super League scandal, has said it supports the idea of an independent regulator in principle and is now studying the detail of the recommendations.
Crouch said she hoped there would be legislation in support of the regulator in the Queen’s Speech next spring, but is keen to move “straight away” in setting up a shadow regulator.
She said she intended to approach the Treasury for the funding to set it up, and estimated it would cost in the region of £5million to do that, with clubs supporting the regulator in the future.
Committee chair Julian Knight said it was “insulting” if the seed money was not ultimately repaid by football, and Crouch added: “If (the Treasury) wants to do it as a loan, then that’s something that happens.”