Does the FA Premier League have power over the Football Association?

The Football Association

The Football Association (FA) is the governing body of football for England. The Football Association is tasked with the organisation of football in England, putting in to play the rules which have been handed down by the world governing body of football – FIFA.

What is the main role of the FA?

The FA has many roles, from developing amateur and the youth levels of the game, to working with the professional side. It is a member association of FIFA and is in charge of the England national football team at full level and all England teams at all levels below full international.

The FA Cup is the cup competition in England which is administered and overseen by the FA. The FA is also in control of Wembley Stadium.

The Premier League

The Football Association Premier League (FAPL) Ltd is the body which runs the top flight of English Football – the Premier League.

It is effectively a commercial entity which runs the league, making decisions regarding the commercial side of the game. For example, it handles commercial decisions such as sponsorship of the Premier League, how television rights for Premier League matches will be sold and how much money clubs will receive when relegated from the league in the form of parachute payments.

What role does the FA play with the FAPL?

The FA is the regulatory body for football in England, meaning any decisions taken regarding purely the football side of Premier League matches rests with the FA. For example, if a player during a Premier League match commits a disciplinary offence, sanction decisions rest with the FA.

If any new rules are developed by the world governing body (FIFA), such as the possible implementation of goal-line technology, this will be administered and developed by the FA for Premier League matches.

Although the FA does not run the day-to-day operations of the Premier League, it has veto power over the appointment of the league chairman and chief executive and over any changes to league rules.

Another way in which the two interact is when the FA requires players to represent the England national team for a competitive or friendly international; the Premier League does not schedule any fixtures on this day thus enabling the players to represent their country.

It is a continual balancing act between the FA and FAPL to ensure both sides are satisfied. This balancing act is achieved by having a FAPL presence on the board of the FA. This allows FAPL to have some sway with the FA when decisions of the FA affect the commercial interests of the FAPL. Furthermore, certain commercial decisions taken by the FAPL may need the agreement of the FA before they can go ahead.

Is there often a conflict between the two bodies?

During 2010, there has been much talk of conflict between the two bodies with suggestions that the Premier League – which runs one of the most successful leagues in world football and generates huge amounts of income – holds too much power and is able to influence certain decisions made by the FA.

Do the two bodies not have the same interests – the success of English football?

The two bodies do have the same interests in relation to the success of English football but the Premier League is only concerned with the top flight of the professional game ,whereas the FA is concerned with all levels of the game, professional and amateur.

Consequently, there can be a conflict where the Premier League is looking purely in commercial terms and the FA is concerned with maintaining the integrity of the game in England.


In December 2016, five former FA executives called on Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee to propose legislation to reform the FA, saying it was outdated, too male-dominated and unable to take on the power of the Premier League or ‘to reform and modernise in a fast-changing world’.

In May 2017, proposals for reform were approved at the FA’s AGM including:

  • bringing three women members onto the FA board by 2018;
  • decreasing the size of the board to 10 members;
  • adding 11 new members to the FA council to ‘better reflects the inclusive and diverse nature of English football’;
  • limiting board membership to three terms of three years;
  • introducing term limits for FA council members.

However, following claims of bullying and racism by Mark Sampson, the national coach of England’s women’s team, and allegations of historical sexual abuse scandal within the game, FA chairman Greg Clarke announced a ‘fundamental’ review of the FA in October 2017, after admitting it had ‘lost the trust of the public’ following the Sampson controversy.

Article written by...
Nicola Laver LLB
Nicola Laver LLB

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A non-practising solicitor, Nicola is also a fully qualified journalist. For the past 20 years, she has worked as a legal journalist, editor and author.