Football's failings under review again
Government interventions into football tend to be a bit like a minnow's cup efforts: enthusiastic, well-intentioned but futile.
The Football Task Force, the Burns review, former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Andy Burnham's seven questions - these are just the campaigns I remember reporting on and then forgetting as nothing happened. Some observers have even suggested that reforming football has proved beyond every single sports minister since the post was created in 1964.
So the past does not bode well for the most recent effort, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee's report on Football Governance, which is a shame as it is actually quite good.
But before we banish it to the bottom drawer let me give you a very executive summary of the 112-page document's 34 conclusions and recommendations.
Reform of the Football Association
Apparently, everybody agrees the FA, as the national governing body, should take the regulatory lead. Sadly, it is hamstrung by glaring conflicts of interest and squabbling empire-builders.
The current structure has the latest FA chairman (they come along more regularly than government reviews) and general secretary trying to get five men from the professional game (the Premier and Football Leagues) to agree with five men from the national game (the county FAs). This results in a gridlock that suits all parties except those hoping for the FA to show leadership on subjects as varied as the winter break and how best to develop young talent.
The new report suggests a board comprising the chairman, general secretary, two more FA executives (one being the head of youth development), two independents, two from the national game (one representing non-league football) and one each from the leagues.
More democratic, more independent, more streamlined. Will it happen? Partly. Perhaps.
But if you think the FA board is a strange beast you should hear the roll call of football's "parliament", 100-plus members (almost exclusively male, old and white) from football hotbeds like Oxford and Cambridge Universities, the Armed Services, the Public Schools FA and assorted counties. Fans and players, to name just two key constituencies, get one vote each.
The CMS report says nobody should be serving longer than 10 years on this body, or the boards of the FA, Premier League or Football League, for that matter.
If the above is aimed at the FA's inadequacies, this is a shot across the leagues' bows.
Yes, the Premier League is watched by millions around the world, the football is exciting and the grounds are almost full but what about the debt, spiralling costs, trouble further down the pyramid and continuing failures of the national team?
The proposed solution is a licensing system that will "promote sustainable business plans and underpin self-regulation measures". Great. But what will look like?
The best answer we have so far is that it should be tougher than the rules we have now but perhaps not quite so rigorous as the Bundesliga's.
The Premier League will say we have a licensing system already, it is called the league rulebook and it is ratified every year by the FA. It will also point to the fact that the Football League has signed up too.
And clubs with European aspirations must already be licensed by Uefa, a process that is about to get more onerous thanks to the financial fair play rules designed to control expenditure on players and wages.
So we should expect a little bit of resistance here, particularly while the definition of a licensing system is so vague.
The football creditors rule
On this very thorny subject, the committee's suggestion was clear: dump this rule yourselves or we will abolish it for you.
For those unaware of the football creditors rule, this is the measure that protects millionaire footballers when clubs go bust at the expense of every other creditor, usually local businesses.
Damian Collins, one of the 11 MPs on the committee, said this rule is not only morally indefensible - why should players be treated differently to everybody else - but also bad for football as it discourages good practice and honest dealing.
This was another open goal for the committee. As chairman John Whittingdale joked, they found it quite difficult to see how anybody could fail football's "fit and proper person" test.
So the bar must be higher and it must be applied consistently, which, to be fair, the leagues know already. The report also recommends the FA runs this test.
What was more interesting was the suggestion that foreign owners be subjected to more scrutiny than British ones - a reassuringly patriotic gesture but not one supported by the facts. Football needs better owners, not necessarily British ones.
After all, Leeds United are owned by a Brit, Ken Bates, (albeit one who lives in Monaco and registers his companies in the Caribbean) and the committee would like the FA to conduct "a thorough investigation" of his Elland Road takeover, calling on the expertise of HMRC, if necessary.
On a more cheerful note, the report also said more should be done to encourage supporter ownership. It even said it would consider tweaking existing legislation to make it easier for supporters trusts to establish themselves and pursue fund-raising activities.
And in a paragraph that will greatly reassure the Arsenal Supporters Trust, whose "Fanshare" scheme impressed the committee but now faces the existential threat of two feuding billionaires, the report says government should consider exempting minority stakes held by supporters from compulsory purchase order rules.
Now this really has been a race-through the recommendations (there are others that deserve a mention, particularly the one about stopping owners from separating clubs from their stadia) but I think you get the gist.
Sorting out the FA is the priority but there is a carrot for the organisation should it accept the challenge: it can be a governing body again. From that single fix, the other good stuff should flow.
The worry, however (and it is the eternal worry), is that governments change, ministers move on and MPs get sidetracked by annoying things like elections. Football's suits can wait them out, particularly if the only lever the politicians are threatening to pull is the withdrawal of some grassroots funding, which hurts the wrong people anyway.
But let's be positive for now and hope that the committee's motto of "no change is not an option" becomes the new chant at Wembley too.