Prince William backs grassroots football fans' bid to save the 'heart and soul' of their clubs

The Duke of Cambridge met with newly appointed Dulwich Hamlet director and former England striker Peter Crouch, along with lifelong football supporters, to discuss how the game should be run; Prince William also gauged fans' views on the ongoing review into football governance

The Duke of Cambridge, President of the Football Association, during a visit to Dulwich Hamlet FC at the Champion Hill Stadium in south London, where he met with players, club management, and football fans from a range of clubs to discuss the independent Fan Led Review of Football Governance. Picture date: Thursday September 23, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story ROYAL William . Photo credit should read: Kirsty O'Connor/PA Wire
Image: The Duke of Cambridge, President of the Football Association, during a visit to Dulwich Hamlet

The Duke of Cambridge has shown his support for grassroots football fans hoping to save the "heart and soul" of their clubs.

William visited Dulwich Hamlet FC to meet its new director, former player and ex-England striker Peter Crouch and lifelong football supporters to discuss how the game should be run.

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 the MP 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?

Peter Crouch and Prince William
Image: Prince William alongside Dulwich Hamlet director and former England international Peter Crouch

"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?"

The visit came after the Duke was pictured watching his beloved Aston Villa take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night, where they were beaten in a penalty shoot-out.

He spent more than an hour at south London club Dulwich, famous for its loyal fans and community feel, to hear from supporters and players about the ongoing fan-led review into football governance.

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Prince William at Dulwich Hamlet
Image: Prince William was shown around the facilities at Dulwich Hamlet

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.

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.

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