Sir Keir Starmer has said there is “no impediment” to parliament introducing legislation that stops the six English clubs from joining the proposed Super League, with the Labour party leader urging the government to take immediate action rather than focus on a review that may take too long to stop a move that will change the sport beyond recognition.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said earlier this morning that he was prepared to drop a “legislative bomb” to ensure the breakaway does not happen with a Downing Street spokesman saying that the government are “not looking to rule anything out at this stage.” Details of what legislation could look like, however, remain scarce.
Addressing a call of more than 100 members from supporters groups across all levels of the game, Starmer said that Labour will support legislation but is urging the government to “get on with it” rather than risk waiting for a governance review spearheaded by former sports minister Tracey Crouch to report.
“A review cannot be an excuse for not taking short-term action if that’s what is needed,” Starmer said. “Action can be taken, laws can be passed, legislation can be passed. The question is willpower.
“There’s no legal stop on this, there’s no impediment. That’s the main message we must drive home when holding the government to account. Get on with it. That has to ring out loud and clear. We can’t have a day of outraged statements then for a medium-term review that reports too late to do anything.”
Asked by football.london about the complexities of forcing through legislation, Starmer added: “There are two routes. The government owns most of the business in parliament. One of the consequences is you get the right to dictate business in parliament. The opposition can put motions forward and we do that but they are not binding.
“There are private bills but the government can put legislation forward very quickly if needed. They can change the business of the day and can pass legislation very fast.
“There have been examples of a particular demand to react very quickly or a gap in another area that’s certainly exposed where the government has got legislation through in a matter of days. It’s perfectly possible to do this.
“We’d like to talk to the government about how quickly it can affect change. The last thing we’d want is for a piece of legislation to pass through parliament when the key decisions are already being taken.”
A bill from Tory MP Helen Grant calling on an independent football regulator to be established, which was initially tabled in January, is scheduled for a second reading and could be used as a vehicle to introduce meaningful change.
But parliament goes into recess at the end of next week and Starmer added that “could make things more complicated” in terms of successfully blocking the Super League move.