It is widely known that since the Premier League formed in 1992, it is owned by the clubs that take part in the competition that season. With relegated teams passing their ownership shares to the promoted teams ahead of the new campaign. However, it is not actually these 20 teams that govern the Premier League.
Who governs the Premier League? The Football Association (The FA) is the national governing body for all of football in England. It has the responsibility for sanctioning competition Rule Books, including the Premier League’s, and regulating on-field matters.
The FA is also a special shareholder in the Premier League. It has no direct role in the running of the Premier League, the special shareholder status means many key actions can only be taken with the FA’s approval. Importantly this includes the appointment and re-appointment of Premier League Board Directors. As with all leagues in England, each season, the Premier League submits its rules to The FA for approval.
The FA may have an important say in all things Premier League, but they are not the only governing body that forms how the English Premier League (EPL) operates. In addition to the FA, FIFA, UEFA and the Premier League Board of directors all have a huge say in the direction the Premier League moves. Not to mention its broadcast partners, like Sky Sports, who essentially pay for the whole party. Money talks. Let’s look at each of these relationships.
Does FIFA govern the Premier League?
The Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) is football’s world governing body. FIFAs biggest responsibility is for the regulation, promotion and development of football at international level. Football played at any official level abides by FIFAs ‘Laws of the Game’. Within FIFA the ‘International Football Association Board’ (IFAB) is tasked with setting and reviewing the rules of football annually. The IFAB consists of four representatives of FIFA and one each from the national associations of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
FIFAs next biggest impact on the Premier League is the fact it sets the international fixture calendar which takes precedence over domestic league football in all nations. The pecking order for fixture calendar construction is as follows;
- FIFA sets international fixture dates
- UEFA sets European club competition dates
- The English FA set dates for the FA Cup
- The Football League sets dates for the League Cup
- The Premier League fixtures are added in around everything else.
So while it may seem like the Premier League is the center of the football world, in many ways it is an afterthought when it comes to rules and fixtures. FIFA has no direct influence over the Premier League, although the Premier League has an obligation to follow its rules and work around its calendar.
Does UEFA Govern the Premier League?
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is responsible for the organization and regulation of club football between different European nations. The UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and the UEFA Conference League are three competitions in which Premier League clubs compete each season. UEFA also organizes the European Championships for national associations every four years, where many Premier League players will showcase their talents.
UEFA club competitions are very prestigious and a great source of revenue for Premier League teams. The Premier League holds a place in the top 3 of the UEFA Association Coefficient table which has the benefit of allowing four Premier League teams to qualify for the Champions League each season. With additional places awarded to the Europa and Conference Leagues.
The representative structures for UEFA are mainly association-based with The FA representing English football on numerous committees. However, recent changes at UEFA have led to greater club involvement through the European Club Association, of which the Premier League has five Ordinary Members and five Associated Members. So in many ways the Premier League and it’s member Clubs influence and govern UEFA itself.
Who are the Premier League Board of Directors?
The Premier League Board comprises a Chair, three Independent Non-Executive Directors, and the Chief Executive. No members of the board are directly associated with any of the member clubs. Through the Premier League’s Articles of Association, the Board is empowered to manage the affairs of the Premier League including its operation and administration and the implementation of the Premier League Rules.
Shareholder meetings are the ultimate decision-making forum for Premier League policy and are held at regular intervals. Member clubs have the opportunity to propose new rules, policy or amendments at these regular shareholder meetings. Each Member Club has one share and one vote. Rule changes and major broadcast and commercial proposals require the approval of at least 14 of the 20 member clubs.
The board has the power to take such steps as it considers necessary to give effect to any policy decided upon by the member clubs at these Shareholders’ Meetings.
An annual general meeting (AGM) takes place after the close of each season, at which time the relegated clubs transfer their shares to the clubs promoted into the Premier League from the English Football League Championship.
The Board has a wide range of roles and responsibilities under the Premier League Rules. It is the entity responsible for resolving disputes in many cases, as well as the body responsible for prosecuting breaches of the Rules when they occur.
Heading into the 2023-24 season the Premier League Board is made up of the following people;
Alison Brittain CBE – Chair since January 2023
Mai Fyfield – Independent Non-Executive Director since September 2021
Dharmash Mistry – Independent Non-Executive Director since September 2021
Matthew Ryder KC – Independent Non-Executive Director since February 2023
Richard Masters – Chief Executive and Director since December 2019 having held the post on an interim basis for a year. He joined the Premier League as Director of Sales and Marketing in 2006 and was later appointed its Managing Director in 2015.
Does Sky Sports govern the Premier League?
Sky sports does not govern our own Premier League in any way. However since the Premier Leagues inception, they have worked hand in glove with Sky Sports to deliver world class football content, in England and around the globe. There has never been a Premier League season here Sky Sports weren’t the most significant broadcast partner and that doesn’t look likely to change any time soon.
In September 2021 Mai Fyfield was appointed to the Premier League Board as Independent Non-Executive Director. Her previous career saw Fyfield work as the Chief Strategy and Commercial Officer at Sky, responsible for leading strategy and Sky’s commercial partnerships across the group. During 20 years at Sky, she was a key player in the growth and diversification of the business and also led the bidding process for three Premier League rights terms.
The Premier League and Sky Sports know they are good for each other and will continue to make decisions that benefit both parties for a long time to come.