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MPs to probe professional football

A cross-party committee of MPs is to investigate the governance of professional football in England and Wales to decide whether Government intervention is needed to reform the game, it has been announced.

The inquiry has been prompted by the rows relating to debts at Liverpool and Manchester United, as well as broader concerns that the current set-up of the professional game is not "fit for purpose".

John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said MPs want to look at models of governance which would involve supporters more in the running of clubs.

Witnesses, expected to include senior figures in the management of the sport as well as representatives of clubs and fans, are expected to be asked whether football clubs should be treated differently from other commercial organisations.

The committee will ask whether there is too much debt in the professional game and whether the rules requiring owners to be "fit and proper persons" are adequate.

It will look at governance models from other parts of the UK and overseas and will consider the pros and cons of supporter trusts, said Mr Whittingdale.

The Government's coalition agreement promised to "encourage the reform of football governance rules to support the co-operative ownership of football clubs by supporters" and the inquiry is expected to inform any programme of change.

Mr Whittingdale said: "The Government has said that it will encourage the reform of football governance rules to support the co-operative ownership of football clubs by supporters, and there is widespread concern that the current governance arrangements are not fit for purpose.

"Our inquiry will look at the case for strategic Government intervention and improved self-regulation and will consider models which involve supporters more in how clubs are run.

"We are keen to hear from a wide range of interested parties, including fans, as well as the clubs themselves and their own regulatory bodies."

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