As the Member of Parliament for Bury South and a passionate advocate for the beautiful game, I welcome the forthcoming Football Governance Bill and the call for an independent football regulator.

This long-awaited move is a significant step forward in addressing the systemic issues plaguing our beloved sport and ensuring its sustainability for generations to come.

However, as we prepare to introduce this crucial legislation to Parliament, it is imperative to question why it has taken so long to reach this point.

Bury Times: Bury South MP Christian WakefordBury South MP Christian Wakeford (Image: Christian Wakeford)

The need for an independent regulator in football has been glaringly evident for years.

The recent fan-led review has shed light on the numerous challenges facing our national sport, from financial mismanagement to inadequate governance structures.

The demise of historic clubs like Bury and Macclesfield Town serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for reform.

These institutions, deeply ingrained in the fabric of their communities, should never have been allowed to fall into oblivion.

For too long, the governance of football has been marred by self-interest and a lack of accountability.

The power wielded by wealthy owners and corporate entities has often come at the expense of grassroots clubs and loyal supporters.

The absence of effective regulation has left many clubs vulnerable to exploitation and financial ruin.

We cannot allow this to continue unchecked.

One of the key priorities of the Football Governance Bill must be to provide greater support for local non-league clubs.

These grassroots institutions are the lifeblood of football, nurturing young talent and fostering community spirit.

Yet, they often operate on shoestring budgets, struggling to survive in an increasingly commercialized landscape.

By allocating resources and implementing safeguards, we can ensure that these clubs thrive and continue to enrich the grassroots game.

Moreover, we must learn from the mistakes of the past to prevent further tragedies like here in Bury.

The loss of our historic clubs sent shockwaves through the footballing world and devastated our community.

It is incumbent upon us to enact measures that protect clubs from financial mismanagement and ensure their long-term viability.

This may include implementing stricter financial regulations, promoting greater transparency, and providing assistance to clubs in distress.

It shouldn’t have taken this long. The resilience and passion of football fans have long been the driving force behind calls for reform, yet their voices have often fallen on deaf ears.

As legislators, we have a duty to listen to the concerns of supporters and take decisive action to safeguard the future of our national sport.

The introduction of an independent football regulator through the Football Governance Bill represents a significant milestone in our efforts to reform the beautiful game.

However, we must remain vigilant in our pursuit of accountability, transparency, and sustainability.

By supporting local non-league clubs like Radcliffe, Bury and Prestwich Heys and learning from past mistakes, we can ensure that football remains a source of joy and unity for generations to come.