A PARLIAMENTARY petition calling for an independent regulator in the English game by the end of the year has been launched.

The call for action came in an open letter signed by a number of former players and journalists, including Gary Neville, Jamie Carragher, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Lineker.

The group highlighted last month's European Super League breakaway attempt as evidence of the need for reform of the game's governance.

"As football fans, we were appalled by the attempt to set up a European Super League," the letter began.

"It was a direct threat to the integrity of the game; destroying the concept of sporting merit and open competition.

"Supporters came together with one voice to oppose the cynical power-grab by a group of wealthy owners. The furious protests were heard and the breakaway fell apart."

The foundation of the Super League prompted the Conservative Government to bring forward the fan-led review it promised in its 2019 General Election manifesto.

The review will be led by former sports minister Tracey Crouch and will assess the need for an independent regulator.

The letter added: "Without swift and direct intervention, the return of a European Super League will be a constant threat.

"We welcome the fan-led Government review of the game and hope it leads to lasting change on an array of important concerns; including co-ordinated strategies to deal with racism, supporters' representation within clubs, LGBTQ issues, ticket costs and the distribution of income. All of those aims can be realised if we take decisive action now."

The letter also called for Government legislation to block any club attempting to leave the football pyramid.

The strength of competition law against such a breakaway is also likely to be considered as part of the fan-led review, with senior sources in the game concerned that the chances of succeeding in blocking an anti-competition action had the Super League progressed were no better than 50-50.

The letter signatories called for a regulator that could "prioritise the wider good of the game, rather than allow clubs to act solely in their own self-interests".

Bury-born Neville urged football fans to get behind the campaign and sign the petition by posting a video from his Twitter account.

He said: "It's been a turbulent three weeks in English football.

"A European Super League proposal that was launched by the top clubs was brought down by the weight of opinion against it and was universally hated by everybody. That's led to protests at many of the top clubs, up and down the country, whether it be on Manchester United's forecourt, Tottenham over the weekend, Chelsea, where Petr Cech had to go out and calm the fans down, and at Arsenal against their ownership.

"There is a big opportunity now in these next few months to influence the outcome of English football and create a fairer game for all. A fan led review has been announced by the Government which is being led by Tracey Crouch and I urge you if you hated me as a player and if you dislike me as a pundit just listen to me this one time and sign this petition which will bring an independent regulation and transparency at the top of the game we all love."