Government football summit: What will be discussed at virtual meeting with FA, Premier League, EFL and more?
The UK government will host a virtual summit on Tuesday lunchtime over the future of English football, which will include the FA, Premier League, EFL, Kick It Out and other fan groups.
Towards the end of an unprecedented year in which football has suffered significant economic damage because of coronavirus, culture secretary Oliver Dowden will lead talks with those in control of the national game.
What will they discuss? What are they hoping to achieve? Sky Sports News‘ chief reporter Bryan Swanson answers some key questions ahead of the meeting:
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How significant is this summit?
This has been an extraordinary year, on and off the pitch. English football is losing around £100m-a-month due to the coronavirus pandemic and there are other significant issues that must be addressed.
The Premier League and EFL are yet to finalise a bailout for struggling lower-league clubs after months of talks and several proposals, with many clubs quickly running out of money to survive.
This summit has been set up to debate and discuss some of the key issues, with the aim of bringing everybody together during a period of considerable stress.
What are the main issues?
Football’s joint response to coronavirus will be discussed following what have been, at times, fraught financial talks between the leagues.
The summit will focus on other pressing issues including the potential return of fans to grounds in England once it is safe to do so, diversity and equality, and the development of the women’s game.
It comes during a week in which the FA are under considerable scrutiny to get right their next appointment as chair, following the resignation of Greg Clarke over offensive comments about race and gender.
It has been called a ’round-table’ discussion but – as is the norm now during this ongoing pandemic – it will not be done in-person. Dowden will lead the meeting online.
Who is attending?
The most senior figures in football have committed to joining the opening round of talks.
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Those include Premier League chief executive Richard Masters and EFL chairman Rick Parry, as well as representatives from the Professional Footballers’ Association [PFA], Kick It Out and the Football Supporters’ Association.
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham and Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA’s Director of Women’s Football, will join the virtual meeting too on behalf of English football’s governing body.
The government hopes that having so many key figures on one call will increase the chances of finding common ground during a period of uncertainty in football, sport and the wider world.
Is this a response to Greg Clarke’s resignation at the FA?
Not directly – but football governance will be another main talking point.
Clarke resigned as FA chairman last week after referring to black footballers as “coloured” during evidence to MPs at a parliamentary inquiry. He apologised over his “unacceptable” words and subsequently told Sky Sports News it was “better for football” that he immediately resign from his role as a FIFA vice-president.
Government officials finalised the summit last week, but the proposal to hold talks was established before Clarke’s offensive remarks to parliament.
They may be asked about the recruitment process, which the FA has insisted will be diverse, but the governing body is expected to announce further details on the search for a new FA chair later this week.
What will this summit achieve?
This is a good question – and there is no clear answer.
Football fans will be forgiven for feeling a sense of fatigue over yet another high-profile meeting involving the game’s administrators.
What makes this summit different, however, is the participation of such a wide of group of people from within the game, including equality and inclusion organisations, the player’s union and fan groups.
The government will want to see evidence that football is coming together, and hopefully some progress on these key issues will be made.
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