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Triesman testimony leaves unanswered questions

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David Bond | 21:48 UK time, Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Lord Triesman's evidence to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Tuesday was more interesting for what he didn't say rather than what he did.

After a session which had included claims of Premier League dominance, a failing Football Association and a bizarre exchange on Premier League chairman Sir David Richards' "colourful" language, former FA chairman Triesman teased us all with another promise to reveal what really went on during the 2018 World Cup bidding campaign.

Shortly after England lost to Russia in December, Triesman went on Channel 4 promising to tell all.

He repeated that promise to MPs on Tuesday, saying: "I think there will be a time when the contact that I and others had with members of the Fifa executive committee should be described in detail because some of the processes I don't think stand up to proper scrutiny."

Despite repeated attempts to get him to spill the beans in an interview with the BBC afterwards - see below - Triesman would not be drawn any further, adding only:

"I recognise people will draw the inference that I have things to say that will illuminate the process and its murkier elements. But when I describe it I will do it in a parliamentary inquiry."

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No date has been set for that session and who knows if Triesman really has a smoking gun. But if he does make claims against Fifa's executive committee then it will only add to the sense of unease around the bidding process, not only for 2018 but for 2022 as well.

If his claims are really explosive then why didn't he tell anyone at the time?

We didn't learn a great deal in truth from the committee's opening session. Many of the things we long suspected from Triesman's time in charge of the FA were confirmed as he subtly tried to settle a few old scores.

He explained how the FA board was heavily conflicted, that there is a systemic failure at the top of the sport, that Richards is "aggressive" and that any attempts to force change and make the FA more diverse were strongly resisted.

Triesman also brought along a copy of the infamous submission to former Culture Secretary Andy Burnham from May 2009 which was a blueprint for the FA to reclaim control of English football.

That, Triesman says, was dismissed and buried after two minutes of a meeting of the Professional Game Board - FA board members representing the clubs plus Richards.

With the Premier League under attack again, its chief executive Richard Scudamore will argue that the game isn't broke, so why fix it? It's never made more money and has never been more popular.

But a sense of unease remains that as the game has become more wealthy and successful, the way it is regulated simply hasn't kept up.

The best point of the day was made by Lord Terry Burns, the chairman of Channel 4 and the author of a report on the FA's structure which, six years on, has still not been implemented in full.

Burns said the FA's current set-up was flawed, a bit like having the top banks represented on the board of the City regulator, the Financial Services Authority, and couldn't possibly work.

Until football accepts that point, one fears this might not be the last inquiry the game has to face.


  • Comment number 1.

    Waiting patiently for what Triesman has to say about the bidding process. One can make inferences, but when it comes from a figure as well respected and connected as Lord Triesman, it carries more weight.

    The Premier League will never allow the FA to have a controlling interest in the running of English football - they are making a killing financially and want to retain the status quo.

    However, it does seem like football is in a bubble that it cannot sustain... a bubble that looks like it will imminently collapse.

  • Comment number 2.

    The game isn't broke. Yeah, I know a lot of fans are a little jealous and bitter about the amount of money going into some clubs. They just wish it was there own :). And of course the papers have to stir, it's their job to be backholes.

    Portsmouth went broke. Big deal, the german league which was held up as an example of *the way to go* also recently suffered club failures. It's everywhere. This is nothing to do with governance and everything to do with the economies our governments have managed to screw up.

    The only reason government are suddenly interested in football now is because they have finally realized the amount of money involved. They want their cut, so the PL should just appoint a few politicos on the board with nice expensive salaries for doing sod all and all this will die down.

  • Comment number 3.

    Lord Triesman is a good man, and the only hope the FA had for a long time of sorting out the horribly top-heavy English game. But the vested interests of the Premier League and right-wing media did for him.

    There is no hope now, turkeys won't vote for Christmas - vote with your feet and go watch your local non-league team - it's a lot more fun. I promise! (And you can still watch United/Arsenal/whoever down the pub now again!)

  • Comment number 4.

    Back to back Champs in 06: What has the failure of football clubs got to do with Government? The cancer in the game is the simple matter that you cannot pay ridiculous transfer fees and salaries when the club's income does not support it! Personally I believe that despite what Scudamore says to protect his own job, the premier league is also in dire straits. Big money donors that currently prop up these failing businesses will eventually become a thing of the past. The rude of health of the game is on the decline and has been for years, it is no longer a competition based on ability but a rather sad sporting version of the game "Monopoly". If that is what the big clubs want to protect then greed and insanity go hand in hand for these people.

  • Comment number 5.

    #2 - Are you on a wind up?

    Lord Triesman probably felt couldn't say anything at the time because the common cause in the shape of the WC bid was more important. If he had come out with his true thoughts, he would have been crucified for 'ruining' the bid - which we wouldn't have won anyway - and probably hounded out of the country by angry tabloid readers.

    Both him and Watmore have tried - and failed - to bring change to the way football is run under the FA, I suspect unless Triesman comes out with some really big claims then a Government inquiry will also fall by the wayside.

    Some real hard and fast financial and ethical rules must be applied to the game, I just hope someone up there has the 'cojones' to do it!

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    It's over anyway, whatever happened behind the scenes is irrelevant to proceedings, this should have been sorted out ages ago. Team that were divided, fell.

    As will Capello later today if England continue flatline performances against Denmark ^^ Only joke, probably just his indifferent post-match comments again.

  • Comment number 8.

    All in all, I am thrilled the PL missed the opportunity to pump it's top-heavy structure with even more money for even more unassailable dominance.

    If we fans must suffer because the people at the top cannot connect with each other let alone FIFA, so be it, at least they know they're the ones to take direct blame.

  • Comment number 9.

    Look, the fact is that the FA created this mess for themselves when they allowed the Premier League to be born in 1992. What's happened since then is that the EPL has grown to become a commercial monster that supplies footballing crack cocaine to the masses and answers to nobody except millionaire directors and billionaire playboys. Of course the Premier League runs football - they control the source of our addiction and what's more they're allowed to sell it openly without regulation. The Scudamores and the Richards of the world are smart rational men who know how to use the power of commerce in their favor. No disrespect to Lord Triesman, Ian Watmore or any of the other nice guys who've attempted to represent the interests of the "national game" but they stand as much chance in a power play face-off with their professional game counterparts as I would in a bar fight with Wladimir Klitschko.

    If we figure that football THE GAME, not football THE ADDICTION, is worth saving then some regulatory body with a pulse must step in to staunch the flow of addictive substances coursing their way to our homes through Rupert Murdoch's fiber optic networks and give our clubs back to our supporters and our country. If we believe that the community and social values upon which our national game was founded are fundamentally more important than Daniel Levy's EBITDA calculations validating the "no brainer decision" to relocate the Pride of North London to the East End then I'm sorry but we're going to have to spend some time in rehab. If we agree that getting behind our national team should be at least as important as supporting our club (some of you younger football fans might not believe it but 99% of the country used to think so at one time before disillusionment set in) then we'll need to detox Scudamore's EPL happy juice out of our system and get back on a balanced diet that contains a good measure of Three Lions.

    My biggest fear is that the only organizations with the authority to act in the national game's interests - that would be the British government and the FA - have already conceded victory to the Premier League in which case we'll all just have to accept that English football will go wherever the money trail leads it. If this is true then it's likely that football as we once knew and loved it with our big clubs, our "little clubs that could" and our England side that represented the ultimate expression of our national game is well and truly dead. What I hope however is that someone with the power and authority to act makes the brave decision to do so. That they walk over to the Premier League boys and calmly and confidently, backed by the support of a nation, ask for our ball back.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    The FA and PL are self regulated bodies, not even answerable to the Govt.

    How can their ever be change while this structure is in place?

    FIFA will not allow any Govt. input into national FAs.

    The PL is a business, and as long as they break no laws, have no-one to answer to.

    We will see if the new UEFA financial fair play rules make any difference, or if those particular goalposts are moved to suit the big spenders.

    I for one am not convinced there will be any change, unless, and we can hope, a financial catastrophe befalls one of the top teams. With the greatest respect to Pompey, it needs to be a top 4-6 team for any impact to be made.

  • Comment number 12.

    Dave Richards, as he then was, was in charge when Sheffield Wednesday went into terminal decline. The FA doesn't seem to be in good hands.
    However, the real problem football faces is the transition to almost 100% foreign players in the Premier League. With the current rules on who can work here ( in football), this is inevitable and will result in the continual failure of the England national team.

  • Comment number 13.

    The FA needs reform. It has few if any mechanisms to listen to the fans. Ten years ago it seemed better organised, and responded better to fans concerns than it does today. Its contact centre is ineffective. Its website is poor, try for instance finding out up to date results and fixtures for FA competitions.

    The Premier League was if you recall set up out of an FA Blueprint for the future of the game in 1991. The PL has it faults but overall I think it is more effective than the FA which is now almost a redundant body as far as top flight football is concerned.

    One can only hope that Mr Bernstein will succeed where others have tried and failed.

  • Comment number 14.

    EPL fans are some of the most blinkered on earth. Beyond their blind support for their club either winning the PL/CL or simply staying up, all else is secondary.

    Sure they might complain about directors running up huge club debts, but at the same time they demand multi-million pound players on huge salaries to further their club's "ambition". They gripe about ticket prices and/or the number of replica shirts, but still fork out for them. They complain about their players being lost to England duty, but them moan when the national side does badly at the World Cup.

    The EPL is powerful because the blind fanbase are easily controlled and, apart from idle complaints, won't do anything to change the situation in enough numbers to make a difference. The England side, and thus the FA, are an irrelevance (or even a hinderance) to the EPL. How long before the biggest EPL clubs, plus a few key European rivals, break away from FIFA entirely in their quest to grab even more money?

  • Comment number 15.

    Good for Triesman, some honesty in English football at last. No wonder he didn't last.

    But reform the FA? The FA is not the problem - it's the Premier League that is the problem.

    What needs to happed on FIFA & UEFA get their act in gear, and take measures to smash it. Deny Premier League clubs access to the Champions League etc, until English football actually adheres to the rules, and is run by it's national association.

    In other countries, any interference in the running of the national association - whether by governments, clubs or league organisations - has been met by bans from international competition. When the hammer falls on the Premier League, it will fall hard.

  • Comment number 16.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 17.

    With success comes power and with it comes reponsibility. The EPL have shown themselves to be commercially successful over the last 2 decades. They have the power! Now is the moment to give give them total responsibilty!For too long they have been hidden from the limelight, the direct glare of public scrutiny. I would propose making them totally responsible for English football from top to bottom.I am sure they could use their successful blueprint from the EPL to make the National Team an all conquering force!
    Let them appoint the England Manager, organise the youth development policy, ensure that the right players are fit and ready for the important WC & EC qualifying games, ensure that the club managers are pushing young English talent into their first team selections, ensure that all clubs do not spend more than they earn.
    As I said before, with success comes power and with power comes responsibility. Disband the old FA system, change the statutes of the EPL and give them total responsibilty. Make them answerable to future success and failures. I am sure they would relish this new challenge and who knows.... maybe we might just see England walk away with the next 3 European & World Cups!!!!
    Dreamland is awaiting just around the only needs a push in the right direction to get there.

  • Comment number 18.

    9. Threelionsforever

    What a brilliant and succinct response.

    Of course, the other people that could change the game are the addicts. You know those that

    1. Cry foul over kick off times but still go
    2. Cry foul over players salaries but just like the taxpayers with the banks, it is you who underpin the grotesque salaries.
    3. Cry foul over replica shirts but still buy them
    4. Cry foul over non performing England teams yet still spend 000's going to tournaments
    5. Cry foul when the England team does not perform even though history, particularly since the EPL was formed, says you are paying for "soiled" goods.
    6. Cry foul over foreign owners but you still fill their pockets with your spend on tickets, programmes, catering.

    It is the SUPPORTERS who could change english football but the businessmen know these same fans are lemmings, they will take whatever dictat is thrown at them, WE MUST SUPPORT THE CLUB NO MATTER.

    Those in power know so long as its a tribal thing in football, they will get away with it. Its like in all walks of life, divide the opposition and power remains.

    You want to change the structures in football ? Its easy

    Football is a game for ALL the people, the Premiership may be the head but it needs oxygen to thrive.

    Why does not the FSA organise a month long event where fans of Premier League clubs go to their local lower division team, be that professional or otherwise. Just see how Sky, Scudamore et al would react to empty terraces. Yes, they may get their billions from overseas contracts but boy their beloved "Product" wouldnt be so precious.

    Of course it will never happen, therefore those who argue about fans being take for a ride should with respect keep quiet, or do something.

    I wont hold my breathe.

  • Comment number 19.

    Why have comments been disabled for your pieces on the banned Pakistani cricketers?

  • Comment number 20.

    .... maybe we might just see England walk away with the next 3 European & World Cups!!!!
    Dreamland is awaiting just around the only needs a push in the right direction to get there.

    Something is waiting around the corner but I suspect its a Sun headline similar to this tosh.

    Dreamland is awaiting? Can't believe anyone would write this after the WC you lot just had. Keep going with the chemicals though, they keep you positive!

  • Comment number 21.

    @back to back champs...

    Big deal? well it was to us pal! But the delicious irony is that it is a Pompey girl that has sounded the death knell on the obscene amount of money poured into the game by sky... lets see how well you meet your outgoings without that golden goose!

    Love it!

  • Comment number 22.

    'He was also unhappy about the way Premier League chairman Dave Richards acted to get his way.

    "My experience is he will put his point politely in board meetings but discussions outside are extremely aggressive discussions, really aggressive discussions, points are made in a very colourful way. I wouldn't use that language."'

    Does anyone know what Triesman can possibly mean by this? ;)

    There is no hope for English professional football whilst it continues to be run by Dave Richards and Richard Scudamore.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    That there is serious malaise within English football is underlined by today's other news. Not that Plymouth Argyle have survived their winding up order, but that they need a further £2,000,000 simply to get to the end of this season.

    I'm an Argyle supporter, but I cannot fathom quite how a club (that has never got to the the top level, and had to live with those debts) can have been allowed to get into such a frightful mess. 6th from bottom of the 3rd division, and it will cost that much to last for 3 months?!! The only reason for this can be that the very top level has become so avaricious that other clubs have also been pulled into the 'money today, jam tomorrow' scam predicated by those who run the PL.

    Triesman will speak, at the hearing, when given the protection of that hearing. heads, and clubs, will then begin to roll. Levels of corruption nationally, as well as internationally, will begin to be seen clearly.

  • Comment number 25.

    #24 - Dorfkcots

    In addition to our national side the situation that clubs like Plymouth Argyle and others are facing is another direct consequence of the FA's weakness in letting the old First Division break away from the Football League. The whole principle behind revenue redistribution where all TV money and a portion of all gate receipts were split equally among all 92 clubs was that the Football League was an organization that looked after the welfare of ALL clubs, not just the elite. And every now and then one of the smaller clubs like an Oxford or a Bradford or a Watford would even be able to scale the heights to the top division on sheer brilliance of club and team management. And even if a smaller club never made it to the top that didn't matter to their supporters - the club was in their blood. Plus some of England's greatest ever players like Kevin Keegan and Phil Neal (and many others) started off in the lower leagues. None of this could happen today though since when all is said and done League One and League Two clubs have been financially cast adrift with salary structures inflated by the divisions above them and no way of capturing the revenues required to cover them.

    If I was allowed to implement only one thing after the completion of the government's inquiry it would be to bring back TOTAL revenue redistribution. Split the TV money 25%-25%-25%-25% between EPL, Championship, League One and League Two. That would make the Premier Leagues trim their expenditures and their wage bills to match their reduced (but fair) revenues. Then we'd have a level playing field where the biggest factor deciding whether Plymouth Argyle ever made it to the top (let alone stay alive) was the skill with which their club was managed and not the size of their revenue stream.

  • Comment number 26.

    re Maxmerit

    You correctly state that Triesman lost his job because of the comments he made over the Spain / Qatar world cup bid and you criticise him for that. Did you not hear Sepp Blatter speaking to Radio 5 Live on 07/02/11 where he admitted that collusion took place. Seems like Triesman was speaking the truth and you should admit that and let him say his piece.

  • Comment number 27.

    Triesman was a politician as was Caborn. They are both now redundant as regards Sports administration in this country. Both were a liability and their demise is a blessing for sport in this country.

  • Comment number 28.

    I wonder IF he really does have some more information that will upset F.I.F.A etc, I just wonder IF he is saying that just to keep himself in the limelight.

  • Comment number 29.

    David- Once again we have 'cloak and dagger' approach at the top of English football. Lord Triesman himself has been discredited, perhaps unfairly; however anything he has to say now can only be 'contaminated' unless he can produce 'hard evidence', if he can, then why hasn't he done so already? - its circular arguement, getting us nowhere as usual.
    It saddens me to say so, but unless the Government intervene with legislation then the Premier League will hold sway over the FA forever; not simply because of the TV money, but because the FA is a 'failed body' with so many 'skeletons' in its cupboard (some of which did emerge recently), that its reputation and capability to be able to act in a Governance role is all but in tatters. The FIFA hierarchy are 'laughing their socks off' at English football and no wonder!!


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