Prince William has shown his support for grassroots football fans hoping to save the ‘heart and soul’ of their clubs.
The Duke of Cambridge, 39, visited Dulwich Hamlet Football Club in south London, to talk over the Fan Led Review of Football Governance, which was brought forward due to controversies over the proposed European Super League.
William, in his role as the President of the Football Association, met with the club’s director Peter Crouch, its chairman Ben Clasper and the chair of the review former Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch.
It’s not the first time William has met Crouch, 40, with the England football star having been invited to Kensington Palace in March 2020 to interview the duke for an episode of Radio 5 Live’s That Peter Crouch Podcast that was released over the summer.
The group chatted over pints of beer and takeaway curry that was delivered to the royal residence and looked relaxed and jovial in video and photos released from the meeting.
Prince William (pictured centre, with Peter Crouch, right) has met with football players, fans and management from a range of clubs to discuss the government’s far-reaching review of how the game is run
The Duke of Cambridge, 39, visited Dulwich Hamlet Football Club (pictured) in south London, to talk over the Fan Led Review of Football Governance, which was brought forward due to controversies over the proposed European Super League
When at the Champion Hill Stadium today, William chatted with players, club management, and football supporters from a range of teams to discuss the review.
After Conservative MP Tracey Crouch spoke about her fan-led independent review into the state of football, the duke, who is president of the FA, asked what could be done to improve matters.
Told how she had found some clubs to have an excellent relationship with supporters but others which treated fans with ‘disdain’ and ‘disrespect’, he asked: ‘Is that also why you can’t necessarily run a football club like a business?
‘Because you then miss the point, that heart and soul and fabric of what a club is, if you’re working to the bottom line that the finances drive everything?’
William, in his role as the President of the Football Association, met with the club’s director Peter Crouch (pictured together), its chairman Ben Clasper and the chair of the review former Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch
His visit came after he was pictured watching his beloved club Aston Villa take on Chelsea at their west London ground in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night, where they were beaten in a penalty shootout.
The duke spent more than an hour at Dulwich Hamlet in south London, famous for its loyal fans and community feel, to hear from supporters and players about the ongoing fan-led review into football governance.
The review, chaired by Ms Crouch, was announced in April 2021 and is intended as a comprehensive examination of the English football system and how to make improvements.
It takes in issues of governance, ownership and financial sustainability of clubs across all levels of football, as well as the controversial abandoned European Super League.
When at the Champion Hill Stadium today, William (pictured) chatted with players, club management, and football supporters from a range of teams to discuss the review
The Duke of Cambridge (centre) with Ben Clasper, Chairman of Dulwich Hamlet Football Club (left), and Peter Crouch (right) during his visit to Dulwich Hamlet FC
In July 2021, an interim set of findings and recommendations was released, with Ms Crouch writing to then culture secretary Oliver Dowden to recommend the introduction of a new ‘Independent Regulator for English Football’, with powers to block any future European Super League.
It outlined proposals to grant supporters a ‘golden share’, giving them a veto over the sale of a team’s stadium and changes to a side’s name, badge and kit colours.
The final report is due to be released this autumn.
Welcomed by chairman Ben Clasper, William hailed Crouch with a fist bump and joked: ‘The last time I saw you we were having a curry, now you’ve got a proper job!’
The UK-wide review of the game was announced in April, after six Premier League clubs signed up and later withdrew from a new European Super League following an outcry from fans. Pictured, William
The first findings were released in July, after Tracey Crouch and a panel of experts spent two months gathering the views of supporters, clubs, participants, leaders, academics and administrators as part of the Government’s Fan-Led Review of football. Pictured, William with Peter Crouch, centre
The duke was introduced to star women’s player Madi Parsonson, 19, asking her how she had found being unable to train in lockdown, and how she had come to love football as a young girl.
He went on to ask the politician about the progress of the official review.
Sitting down with coaches and managers at Dulwich Hamlet to hear about the club’s relationship with fans, William asked: ‘What is it about the model here that’s worked so well? What’s the best practice that can be replicated elsewhere?’
Told about how the club has kept prices low and now has 2,000 fans for Saturday matches, he joked of future entertainment: ‘Crouchy will do a half time dance!’
William’s outing comes as his brother Prince Harry, 37, visited New York with his wife Meghan Markle today for their first joint public appearance since Megxit.
The couple met NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, 60, and New York Governor Kathy Hochul, 63, at the One World Trade Center. No details on why the royals are meeting with the Democrat lawmakers and what they plan to discuss were shared in advance.
De Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray, 66, and the mayoral couple’s son Dante, 24, were also there to welcome the royal couple, who are visiting from their home in Montecito, California.
In her interim report, Crouch revealed she has reached one firm conclusion already: ‘In order to protect the future of key aspects of our national game a new Independent Regulator for English Football is needed.’ Pictured, Prince William, centre
William (pictured), who has been President of the FA since 2006, asked fans what they hoped would be included in the final report of the Fan Led Review, which will be released in the coming months