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Page last updated at 18:04 GMT, Thursday, 16 October 2008 19:04 UK

Burnham demands football reforms

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham
Burnham has deep concerns about the way football is being run

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham wants football's authorities to report back to him within three months over his plans to safeguard football's future.

Burnham wants the Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League's views on his seven-point plan to prevent fans deserting the sport.

He said: "We risk the game losing touch with its traditional fan-base.

"The time has come for football to reassess its relationship with money and with its supporters."

The former Football Task Force chairman, who became Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in January, is convinced the game must change in order to survive.

At the present time the 20 Premier League clubs are estimated to have a combined debt of 3bn and that is a huge concern to Burnham.

Speaking at the Supporters Direct conference in Westminster, he said: "Despite the levels of money in the game, football must be a sporting competition run like a business and not vice versa.

I am inviting the three football authorities to take a co-ordinated and in-depth look at the questions I have laid out

Andy Burnham

"The game makes money because of the way it began - because of the fierce rivalry between fans and the history of civic pride and local allegiance forged over a century or more.

"The game is becoming increasingly polarised. The top clubs who build on global success are in danger of becoming detached from the communities that build them.

"We need to ensure the flow of finance furthers football's interests as a sport."

Burnham has called for more consistency in financial regulations; more transparency and scrutiny of club ownership and debt levels.

He also wants rule changes for clubs in insolvency; a reconsideration of rules forcing insolvent clubs to pay football debts first and a strengthening of the fit and proper persons test for club owners.

And on the field Burnham wants the promotion of a competitive balance and a re-examination of the case for a quota for home-grown players.

He added: "Having strong competition as a primary goal is the way to ensure commercial success.

"Football clubs do not exist to be pure businesses. They do not exist to put each other out of business. The product is the competition.

"Football has special characteristics and a fundamental role in our community.

"It is right to raise these issues and we are open about them because we all want the game to have a strong future.

"I am inviting the three football authorities to take a co-ordinated and in-depth look at the questions I have laid out, and to respond with their thoughts in the new year."

see also
Scudamore defends ownership test
07 Oct 08 |  Premier League
FA chief fears '3bn' club debts
07 Oct 08 |  Football
Arab group agrees Man City deal
01 Sep 08 |  Man City

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