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Will government really get tough with football?

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David Bond | 14:38 UK time, Wednesday, 12 October 2011

The message to football from the government on Wednesday might look like an ultimatum but the reality is rather less severe.

None of the changes called for in their response to the select committee inquiry on the way football is run are particularly contentious or draconian.

Both the Premier League and the Football Association have responded warmly and that may prompt accusations that, for all the noise made by the MPs' hearings and ministers in recent months, there is still a lack of appetite to really tackle the problems facing the national game.

The most controversial issues are likely to be the ones highlighted by the government as "immediate priorities". These are:

*Reduce the main FA board - the key decision-making body - from 12 members to 10. And also change its composition to include two independent directors and two more FA executives (in addition to the chairman and general secretary, who are already represented). This could meet resistance from the professional game and national game (the leagues and the county FAs) who currently have five representatives each.

Houses of Parliament in Westminster

Previous attempts by government to get tough have failed - photo: PA

*Reform the FA Council to make it more representative of the game and limit council members' terms. At the moment FA committees, such as the FA Cup or international committee, report to the council. The select committee and the government says it should report to the reformed main board. Few people will care about this outside the FA but it could meet resistance from the council which ultimately votes on any major FA structural change.

*Set up a new football licensing system for clubs to regulate matters such as who owns them, debt, foreign ownership and supporter involvement. The Premier League and Football League have made big strides in these areas and for bigger clubs Uefa's new financial fair play regulations will cover many of the same areas. However, there is an apparent contradiction in the government's response. At one point it says it does not expect the leagues' rule books to be superseded. But then it says the FA should oversee the licensing system. Which is it? As ever the devil will be in the detail and the Leagues may agree to general principles, though retaining control over their own detailed rule books.

The football authorities have been given until 29 February to start making the changes. If football does not take action, then the government will look to introduce legislation to force the FA to change.

But this is a bit of a hollow threat. The government does not want to legislate on football and in fact may struggle to get a bill through Parliament which singles out just one sport.
Besides the government's programme of legislation for this Parliament is already full and it could take at least two years to pass.

A private member's bill could provide a short-cut and the response does say there are a number of other options they could look at so it should not be completely ruled out if the game circles the wagons. But there is no sign of that and FA chairman David Bernstein is already co-ordinating a review of the game's regulatory structure.

As for the deadline the government is unlikely to be too fussed if football does not make all these reforms by next February. What ministers seem to be saying is; make a start in the next six months and we will be happy. It is worth noting that the response insists football must agree proposals for plans, not actually implement them by this date.

Getting major changes into league rulebooks or passed by the FA shareholders (the FA's ultimate decision making body) could take a year to 18 months.

So all in all this is a gentle nudge to football rather than a gun to the head of the national game.

And remember previous attempts to get tough have failed. Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Sports Minister Hugh Robertson know this and are banking on the consensual approach finally delivering the reforms the sport and the FA so desperately need.


  • Comment number 1.

    how do you get officials to give up their perks voluntarily, i can already hear the squeals from the county associations as they are dragged forcibly from the trough of free tickets, luncheons,elite representation etc, the blazers and badges brigade wont give their freebies up without a struggle.

  • Comment number 2.

    Someone needs to pull the plug on the FA, they are too incompetent to reform themselves.

    In the time being they are dragging the sport we so desperately want to be proud of through huge piles of steaming

  • Comment number 3.

    Ill be happy as long as they sort out the way man city and chelsea are distorting wages and transfer fees while making more losses than the whole premiership other than united and arsenal makes profit. Deluded chelsea and man city fans will actually try and argue thier spending helps out the league instead of the truth that it increases wages and transfer fees for all clubs. Uefa have taken this step even though i can see them reversing it or atleast not fully implementing it now platinis darling psg have similar spending power. According to platini man city and chelsea are ruining football while psg are helping out the french league, racist hypocrite much?

    Id love for us to have a sustainable model like germany does where competition is better and fairer than in any other european league. They also need to tackle the way owners like the glazers put massive debts on clubs. Its atleast a step in the right direction but it wont really be needed if uefas financial fair play rules work like they should.

  • Comment number 4.

    Doesn't FIFA frown on government interference in football matters ?

  • Comment number 5.

    OK, I’ll have a bash on this one.

    First, the Government needs to think a lot more about this because it does not have the authority to legislate against one, isolated, sport. Whatever legislation is made regarding football is equally applicable to every sport. Who interprets and enforces legislation? The Police and the CPS. So, a “knee-jerk” and ill-thought-out Act of Parliament could easily lead to the UK being forced out of Formula 1, the Olympics and so many other international sports. Moreover, the FA is an independent company as is the Premier League. If so proved to the requisite Judges then even all commercial structures could be subject to the legislation and methinks a number of Banks would be immediate targets for those in the Police or the CPR who chase headlines using indiscriminate legislation. And remember that the English Parliament only has complete jurisdiction over the whole of the United Kingdom; it has no authority over Global institutions, like FIFA, EUFA, IOC or the F1 brand, et al.

    From this perspective, the whole concept of legislation is a non-starter unless the “coalition” has a limitless legal budget to fight so many legal arguments from so many mischevious lawyers, let alone the Police and the CPS. And we already have so much experience of the palpable inadequacy of those writing up legislation that costs the Exchequer so much, every day, every week, every month and every year.
    In the Legal industry, millionaires have been made by such poor legislation.

    Secondly, football is much bigger than even money. Yes, the FA and the Premier League and every PL club can go bust, like so many Banks did. Guess what? All that’s lost is the money of the investors in those clubs. Players will move on. Fans will move on and, like the example of AFC Wimbledon, better clubs will rise from the ashes. Oh no. Football will not be exterminated by silly investors. Football is so ingrained in our national male culture that it is immune from the less reputable egos of self righteous and pompous politically correct abusers of society. And perhaps there is a lesson here for the coalition in that all they needed to save in the credit-crunch was the Bank Depositors. Let the speculating investors lose the odd few quid and jump off buildings. Keep the Depositors safe and then buy the shares for one penny. When stability returns, float them using the same markets that destroyed them. THAT is what the markets are about and what the markets wanted! What do markets want? All together now, P-R-O-F-I-T. Well done, everyone.

    The coalition could legislate for a maximum wage; problem is that it would affect Bankers as much as footballers. Just one example of the ludicrous proposition that is being submitted in this case.

    This is yet another celebrity (in this case, a Minister) desperately seeking air-time on Today and the morning TV merry-go-round. Or, what actually happens in reality today transcends the “fictional” events portrayed in the excellent BBC Series, “Yes, Minister”.

    With apologies to Pink Floyd, We Don’t Need No Legislation………..

  • Comment number 6.

    #4 Yes. In fact I'm surprised FIFA haven't already threatened to ban the national team from everything, as they did with France, Nigeria and Ghana, to name a few. Perhaps because this is dealing with the FA as a whole, and not just the national team? We shall see.

  • Comment number 7.

    I'm fairly sure that the noises coming out of LFC today about individual TV rights are a far bigger story than this. Can't imagine why on earth the BBC would ignore such arrogance and contempt for their fellow clubs and for the spirit of equality in the current agreement in a blatant desire to serve their own interests? Now why would that be?

    3 btw, not too sure about the current trend of hyping the bundesliga's supposed competitiveness. don't get me wrong, it's a high quality league. but by way of a comparison the PL has had 4 different champions since the Sky money started, including one random winner (Blackburn). during the same period the Bundesliga has only had 6 champions, including two random winners (Kaiserslautern and Wolfsburg). One of the main differences for the better that's often cited is the ticket prices, but that's largely a cultural thing in rip-off Britain.

  • Comment number 8.

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

  • Comment number 9.

    Maybe the English team needs this. I would rather England lose their place at the next euros that the next world cup. It would free up the summer for the players to recover and maybe allow the season to start a few weeks eariler so that they can have a winter break. But I am suprised that there was no mention of FIFA banning the National team in the main report because this was the first thing that came to my mind. The goverment needs to hold their nerve against the PL as they will do everything they can to prevent this (as they would be banned from Europe)

  • Comment number 10.

    assensai your whole post is completely underminded by the fact you say fans move real football fan would say that. I couldnt imagine even watching football if united were disbanded.

  • Comment number 11.

    It is funny in a way. Most of the day I have wondered what FIFA's stance would be on this issue, being that they frown upon governmental interfacing.

    So now we are graced by the BBC's amazing David Bong with all his thoughts on the issue.

    And he fails to address this one point that I am sure has crossed a few people's minds.

  • Comment number 12.

    Mattdma, I don't know which United you support but, I'll put my point more explicitly; players move on and their fans move on and they make a new club together. When a club fails then players have no job and fans have no one to watch. Like AFC Wimbledon, some players and some fans can form a new club that yields more affection and passion. The essence of my point is that if, as a fan, you truly are devoted then you will make sure it survives even if the money-boys tell you it's all over, ie. YOU will not let your club die. That is my point!

  • Comment number 13.


    "3 btw, not too sure about the current trend of hyping the bundesliga's supposed competitiveness. don't get me wrong, it's a high quality league. but by way of a comparison the PL has had 4 different champions since the Sky money started, including one random winner (Blackburn). during the same period the Bundesliga has only had 6 champions, including two random winners (Kaiserslautern and Wolfsburg)."

    So which price you are paying for having a PL full of well paid foreign players?

    You remember the 27.06.2010?

    That will answer some questions about the difference of the German Bundesliga and the PL . . . . . .

  • Comment number 14.

    A modest opinion from a continental observer:

    Be patient - the FA will not be able to reform itself. Politics will not be allowed, or will not allow themselves, to meddle. So for a while things will continue the way they have been going on.

    Which also means, that the English national side will continue to fail in tournaments and stare in disbelief and perplexity at other nations whose standards they fail to even approximate, let alone rival, like Spain or Germany.

    The PA "thrives" on making debts and buying valuable international stars while utterly neglecting the rearing of a young and genuinely ENGLISH pool of talented players, and that's a shame.

    But as long as a majotity (?) of the football fans adheres to "club before country" the FA will remain the same. Only if the hurt of the national side's everlasting underachievement becomes too hard to bear much longer, the FA "money bags" may see themselves forced to start thinking.

  • Comment number 15.

    Instead of more pseudo-business nothing stories, why no blog on Scotland's Euro exit?

    I'm sure there are plenty of opinions out there other than just Chick Young's..........

  • Comment number 16.

    Would be interesting to see what the Premier League feels about government intervention in football in the country. Especially seeing as they benefit so much from having the FA under their thumb.

  • Comment number 17.

    no.10 Mattdma

    you talk as a United fan, not a true football fan....

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    The cynical might be minded to say that the only way to achieve concensus in football is if all concerned know that they will lose their livelihood if they don't agree!

    When has that been the case recently, eh?!

    I hope that isn't true, but it's football who has to show that it isn't, quite frankly....

  • Comment number 20.

    The FA will come out and flap its gums to give some lip service to reform. Nothing will change. If the EPL feels threatened they will threaten to leave the FA and form their own organisation with other leading European clubs.

    If you really want change, no individual can sit on the board for more than 2 years other than the chair and secretary. That means Scudamore gets two years at the table then has to wait another 6 while it scrolls through the Championship, League 1 and League 2.

    I'd also like to know what the 'vision' of the FA is? What is it they are actually trying to do?

    If the FA genuinely got its house in order it could offer some serious resistence to FIFA

  • Comment number 21.

    Football governance just like banking is a "club"

    Who is threatening them if they dont play ball ?...................... ah yes, the politicians, and as a "club" they are more "exclusive" than anyone with only about 650 members

    Is any further comment really required as to how things will pan out ?

  • Comment number 22.

    13 Hartmann, sorry but I have no idea what you mean? Are you saying that you've lept to the conclusion that I am somehow in favour of the current level of player wages in the PL? My post simply called into the question the substance behind the present trend of hyping the actual competitiveness of the Bundesliga. Not that competitiveness is always an accurate barometer of overall quality, either. As for the German national team, I believe the difference is cultural and more importantly cyclical. The German national team has traditionally been excellent at tournament football, unlike the England team. This has meant, for example, that in recent times they were able to over-achieve in WC2006 and surprise a few people at WC2010. These are far from the only incidences of a German national team surpassing all reasonable expectations. It is encouraging to see that they have been able to improve since then and I sincerely hope that the young players in that squad are able to perform at the next European Cup of Nations and bring Spain down a peg or two. I also hope that their lead is followed by England, and that the current crop of superb English youngsters that are coming through around the (E)PL, especially - but not only - at Manchester United are fast-tracked to the national team. It is just a pity that the national team represents the national association, and that in the case of England, that means the FA in London.

  • Comment number 23.

    Regarding comment 7, Ian Ayre is only talking about the overseas part of the tv rights & lets be honest he has a point. The vast majority of premiership watchers outside the UK are only interested in the top 4 or 5 teams so why should Bolton receive the same money as Man Utd ?

  • Comment number 24.

    First of all, why does the Premier League have a say on the board??????? I mean to say, it is the FA Premier League after all. The FA's competition like the FA Cup.

    The government should regulate football, like it should regulate all other things. Do restaurants regulate themselves? Sport is not merely sport, it is business and should be treated as such.

  • Comment number 25.

    Perhaps the government should take a look at themselves first. They dont look all the savoury either. An elitist club of incompetents so they are not much different than the aptly named FA.

  • Comment number 26.

    As a taxpayer, the first and most fundamental change I would like to see is football clubs to be subject, to and have enforced on them, the same rules regarding trading (insolvently), paying VAT, NI contributions and other taxes on time and in full.

    I object to any special treatment of other clubs as preferential creditors.

    Basically, I'm sick and tired of having to subsidise the profligacy of this bloated, over-hyped industry.

  • Comment number 27.


    Yeah honestly spoken I got the impression that you were talking about the competitiveness between the EPl and the German BL in general. I wanted to make clear that we in Germany are really wondering why you think that our Bundesliga is not that competitive. I mean our clubs have no debts. Why? They invest in young talented players from Germany. Do we need e.g. a well paid foreign team coach? No, we trust our own trainers.
    Very often it is been told that England got the better individual players. Do we have in Germany no gifted players? I mean world class players? I mean this is arrogant. So put those gifted and world class players like Oezil, Schweinsteiger, Mueller, Neuer, Klose, Gomez together in a team and you will triumph e.g. ten times in a row . . . .

  • Comment number 28.

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

  • Comment number 29.

    You have teams like Hannover 96 and Borussia Monchengladbach who narrowly avoid *promotion one season only to challenge at the top the following season!


  • Comment number 30.

    You would think the Tories would have bigger priorities like the worst unemployment figures since the last Tory lot took a wrecking ball to the economy.

    Still the Tories never did like football much, they tried to ban away fans remember, maybe they are just following the spitefull Tory tradition of settling old scores.

  • Comment number 31.

    Like others I am surprised that FIFA aren't screaming their lungs out over this and if they start doing so it'll make all other points made here irrelevant. Even if they have the best of intentions - the government would be smart to back the hell off before it's too late!

  • Comment number 32.

    7. At 18:35 12th Oct 2011, TheTrawler wrote:

    during the same period the Bundesliga has only had 6 champions, including two random winners (Kaiserslautern and Wolfsburg).

    I love the way you mention ''random winners'' as if that's some kind of criticism!

    The Bundesliga has had 4 different champions in the last 5 years , and 5 different champions in the last 8.

    The point that you're missing is that the Bundesliga is STILL competitive, whereas the EPL is more and more predictable by the season.

    Only Manchester United and the two highest bidders are serious challengers in the EPL. Imagine how bad the EPL would be if Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour had not decided to invest in English teams?

    We'd be talking about Manchester United in the same way as Skonto Riga in Latvia.

  • Comment number 33.

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

  • Comment number 34.

    Yet another blog ruined by an idiot.

  • Comment number 35.

    34. At 21:27 12th Oct 2011, We all follow United wrote:

    Yet another blog ruined by an idiot.

    That's not a very nice way to refer to ''TheTrawler''.

    He may be completely wrong in almost all of his posts, but he's not an idiot.

  • Comment number 36.

    This is worrying, I just hope the Government dont interfer getting involved in the FA itself.
    But as long as they dont disband the FA and have the DCMS running it, then its ok.
    But the amateur game needs better representation and the professional game needs the FA to be the leading football body NOT the Premier League.
    But the biggest hurdle the FA face is still the bill for Wembley, it cost £757 million and the FA have to have so many events to be held to cover the cost of building it.
    Plus St Georges Park needs to be sorted now, yes Building has started but a lost generation of footballers has been lost between 2000 and 2010....10 years....this is why the FA needs an overhaul but if we are to have representatives maybe ex players who know the game......

  • Comment number 37.

    The goverment needs to regulate the PL a lot more - stop this disgraceful foreign ownership and plundering of our clubs. The PL is out of control and has destroyed the national team, it has the FA on lockdown - limiting the amount of games England can play and bombarding the league with foreign players - most of whom are no better then local players.

    The money being lost on greedy players wages is criminal. How much money are agents taking from clubs? Why are ticket prices rising year on year? Why is there so much debt? When will the penny drop for the government that the PL is fools gold?

  • Comment number 38.

    37. At 21:49 12th Oct 2011, Nav Sandhu wrote:

    bombarding the league with foreign players - most of whom are no better then local players.

    Stop it! I nearly choked on a mouthful of toast when I read that part of your post.

    As for foreign ownership of EPL clubs? That's free market capitalism, dear boy!

    I'm not quite sure how you could legally restrict foreign ownership of English football clubs when it's the clubs themselves who are absolutely itching to be taken over by bored foreign billionaires who have more money than sense.

  • Comment number 39.

    27 no, absolutely not. i simply meant that in terms of title-winners the bundesliga is only slightly less predictable than the three leagues generally ranked above it - PL, Liga, Scudetto. are you a Bayern fan btw ;-}

    30 spot on.

  • Comment number 40.

    37 the national team has pretty much achieved as much in the last 19 seasons as it did in the previous 25, surely?

    i'd be interested to see a poll of how many of those people moaning about ticket prices, player wages and transfer fees also subscribe to sky sports, the main driver behind the march of money in the english game.

  • Comment number 41.

    40. At 22:15 12th Oct 2011, TheTrawler wrote:

    sky sports, the main driver behind the march of money in the english game.

    Also one of the main drivers behind the inherent ignorance and arrogance of the average English football ''fan''.

  • Comment number 42.

    Villa: You appear to be unaware that the Premiership isn't the only football league that Sky Sports screens. They're also the UK broadcaster for La Liga. The English fan's ignorance of continental leagues(including admittedly mine) is not due to Sky Sports it's due to the fact few a relatively small number of fans are both willing to spend money to recieve the specialist sports channels 'and' have time to follow all the football leagues on offer in any sort of detail!

    Me I have Sky Sports and ESPN but I mainly keep Sky Sports to watch Champions League football(and I'll also need it to watch Formula 1 next season) and I picked up ESPN so I could follow NBA basketball. It is impossible to watch football from several national leagues in any sort of detail while continuing to follow other sports while having something resembling a life outside that!

  • Comment number 43.


    Unbelievable! You are a clairvoyant ;-)! I live in Munich and I am supporter of Bayern Muenchen but we really were impressed last season by the young and skilled team of Dortmund. They have not that interntional experience but last season the top squad in Germany. No doubt about it. I think the average age of the squad of Dormund was 23 years. The average age of 7 players is 20!!!!!! So they have become title winner last year in Germany. It was not predictable . . . . . .

  • Comment number 44.

    23 callyismagic wrote:
    Regarding comment 7, Ian Ayre is only talking about the overseas part of the tv rights & lets be honest he has a point. The vast majority of premiership watchers outside the UK are only interested in the top 4 or 5 teams so why should Bolton receive the same money as Man Utd ?


    The PL TV deal is shared out so that every team gets an equal percentage of 50% of the cash, with 25% based on TV appearances (each side guaranteed at least 10) and 25% handed out on a place by place basis in prize money (20 parts for 1st, 1 part for last)I'm well aware he's talking about the overseas package. He couldn't possibly be stupid enough to have sounded off publicly about the UK deal. Maybe the overseas deal should be worth more, but there's a few good reasons why each club should receive the same money, or at least virtually the same, from it. One reason is that without the rest of the league who the hell are Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal going to play? To suddenly just say We're Liverpool FC and we want all the money is not on. Each league is reliant on all the teams in that league for it to work. If Ayres wants to exploit the South Asian market then he should find ways to do it alongside the collective deal, not instead of it. If he can't, then Liverpool FC should employ someone that can.

  • Comment number 45.

    42. At 22:35 12th Oct 2011, MGUK82 wrote:

    I'm not suggesting that everyone should automatically have an encyclopedic knowledge of football around the world. If someone's interest in football extends to nothing more than watching the EPL on Sky, then that's fine by me. I wouldn't say that they are ignorant for doing so.

    What I have a huge problem with is the tendency for the average English football ''fan'' to ignorantly and arrogantly mouth off and belittle football from countries, leagues and teams who they have never watched, and - in some cases - never heard of.

    These ''fans'' automatically put all things English in the world of football on a pedestal above ''johnny foreigner'', by the very virtue that these players or teams are English.

    An example of this ignorance and arrogance was perfectly encapsulated in a comment from a UK-based poster on another BBC blog; he was mocking France for drawing at home to Bosnia-Herzegovina last night. How many times would he have seen Bosnia playing, let alone how many Bosnian players could he have named - besides Dzeko (if he was even aware of what nationality he was)?

    You see, the assumption was that because he'd never seen Bosnia-Herzegovina play and because he was ignorant of anything related to Bosnian football, that they must be ''rubbish'' and that, consequently, it was a chance to ridicule the current French side.

    Truth be told, Bosnia are a decent side, and France - albeit reasonably late-on - secured the point which they required.

  • Comment number 46.

    43 say hello to poccistrasse for me ;-}

  • Comment number 47.

    I agree that previous attempts have failed. However the Govt. could look to getting some leverage of it own. For example it can change the immigration rules (without going thro' Parliament) to stop non EU footballers playing in the UK-that would hit the clubs in their pockets and bring them to heel); it can stop making grants;it can step up its campaign to ensure that clubs and agents and players pay their proper share of taxes. A clearly articulated strategy should bring them up short and to attention.

  • Comment number 48.

    Good points from assensai #5. Governments continually seek to expand their remit into areas where they have no right to be. It's amazing that, given the many real problems the UK faces, the government has time to waste on such non-core issues. The state of football and how it is run should not be an issue for government, and the football clubs and authorities should show them a red card.

  • Comment number 49.

    Villa: Fair point but if a team/nation isn't on your radar then logically your first impression is going to be "bunch of nobodies - no worries". Hell even I've fallen into that trap sometimes - I mean that was my first impression of Montenegro but they went on to impress me in this qualifying campaign.

  • Comment number 50.

    The goverment should leave football alone as far as constitution of fa Board and F A council unless they want us kicked out of FIFA as the independance of the FA in each countryis a prime requirement of FIFA and countries are suspended each year because of goverment interference

    I can except teh goverment making the football first rule in teh case of creditors illegal as it is contary to all business law,.

  • Comment number 51.

    i thought if, a government tries to interfere, there would ramifications from uefa/fifa.

  • Comment number 52.

    To Assanei (#5)

    While I agree that the government should not be getting involved in football legislation (After all a government that has an annual deficit of how much telling people they need to be financially viable - pot to kettle you're black)

    However your post makes some very bad points.
    Legislation does not have to go through the police/CPS - that would only apply to criminal acts. It could be controlled by OFFoot (Office of Football) similar to OFCom does communications and various other OF organisations oversee specific industries. This also solves the problem you mention of legislating against specific sports/businesses. Besides this is also currently done - different bank types operate under different rules/requirements

  • Comment number 53.

    #26 Mouse_at_Large, has it totally right, if you want to sort out financial problems start with the most important thing, the fact that football seems to be exempt from the same rules EVERYONE else has to work by regarding tax and insolvency issues.

    Also, regardless of the relative strength of certain leagues, in Germany EVERY team is not just solvent but free from debt, because of a simple rule they must follow, no 'owner' is allowed to lend any money to a club, they can GIVE whatever they want but debt is not allowed.
    If we had the same rule over here no clubs would be in trouble, we'd have far more transparency in all financial matters and we'd soon see just how much all these megarich 'owners' really loved their clubs if they had to give money without ever expecting a return.

  • Comment number 54.

    Pity they don't concentrate more on the banks and stock market manipulators.

  • Comment number 55.

    I have a better solution - why not just ban football.

    Get rid of it once and for all - the endless analysis of nothing, the moronic comments, the whole damn back hole of emptyness.

    I was just going to ban football from mainstream media, but hey why not go the whole hog.

  • Comment number 56.

    FIFA does not allow governmental interference in member associations,it can and does expel nations where government has undue influence. These 'threats' can be construed as undue influence. Football has its problems but it can take no lessons from a body which has made such a monumental mess of its own and the nations finances. Football can solve most of its problems by dis-banding the Premier League and reforming the 92 club football league and that should be the debate,spreading the games finances more evenly but it is no business of HM Government.

  • Comment number 57.

    9. At 18:39 12th Oct 2011, mpjacko wrote:
    ..... But I am suprised that there was no mention of FIFA banning the National team in the main report because this was the first thing that came to my mind.



    34. At 21:27 12th Oct 2011, We all follow United wrote:
    Yet another blog ruined by an idiot. (talking about Soul Patch posting yet another comment slagging off anything English).

    + 1 mate, he's ruining every football blog the BBC put up for comment.

  • Comment number 58.

    41. At 22:19 12th Oct 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:

    "Also [Sky] one of the main drivers behind the inherent ignorance and arrogance of the average English football ''fan''.

    You're wrong, look into the past, the English have always been like this.

    Sky are simply making money from it.


  • Comment number 59.

    The FA certainly seems to require an overhaul and it further seems that only teh Government have the authority (whatever that means) to enforce it, even if it means that FIFA ban the National Team for the period of time that it takes the FA to sort itself out.

    The biggest change that should be implemented, in my opinion, is to ensure that the FA is the highest level of authority for football and that the Premier League MUST answer to the FA, rather than have equal footing or, as it appears to me, have the ability to push the FA around based on financial clout.

    Sadly, I don't ever see this happening (the pretext may be there but I don't believe the implementation will be).

  • Comment number 60.

    58: lol. Nothing like casual xenophobia then! Every English (football fan?) is ignorant and arrogant!

  • Comment number 61.

    I always thought Governments were allowed to interfere in Football matters under FIFA rules?

    I don't think the government will be able to impose many Laws or rules that force the FA to change the current games set up.

    Trying to impose salary caps etc would surely fall foul of EU trading standards or some other ruling etc?

  • Comment number 62.

    The FIFA question is a relevant one given their past actions against what they perceive as government interference in football matters. Whilst FIFA is justifiable of having a view on a certain situation can they realistically be entitled to interfere in national matters?.

    The other question is government interference in football matters which dependent on the issues and circumstances could be justified but is it really on this occasion I am not so sure. Its certainly nothing new. Remember then FA Chairman Bert Millichip being summoned to Downing Street in the mid to late 1980s.

  • Comment number 63.

    60. At 10:04 13th Oct 2011, Thrashball wrote:
    58: lol. Nothing like casual xenophobia then! Every English (football fan?) is ignorant and arrogant!

    It's pretty standard for Nibs and Soul Patch. They are both clearly Welsh, Scottish or Irish nationalists who are still upset at being ruled by England.
    They big up Spanish football so they can slag of English football (and anything else English) becuase they can't mention their own countries football, cause Welsh, Scottish and Irish football is 20 x worse than English football.

  • Comment number 64.

    No idea about nibs but Soul Patch certainly isn't Scottish - or at least has no loyalty to there, he was treating Scotland's performance vs Spain with as much disdain as anything related to English football.

    Best guess, British expat that moved to Spain and went native.

  • Comment number 65.

    Best guess, British expat that moved to Spain and went native.


    As if he/she lives in Spain. Best guess is a Barcelona, Real Madrid (despite them being an also-ran) and Spain glory boy because they win things (apart from Madrid obviously). If Germany win the Euro's it'll be Bayern this, Bundesliga that.

  • Comment number 66.

    @4 - You're quite right about that. The government's ultimatum is useless because if they do interfere it would be breaking FIFA rules.

  • Comment number 67.

    @30 - Its not just the Tories. Its Labour as well. The football governance debates began with the founding of the Football Task Force under the late Tony Banks, when he became Sports Minister under Tony Blair. This current process was begun by Andy Burnham when he was in charge of the DCMS and his Sports minister Gerry Sutcliffe. Labour knew that any attempt to control football wages, club debt etc could be a vote winner.

  • Comment number 68.

    @47 - The government have got tight rules on non-EU CITIZEN (and yes I meant to put it in capitals) coming to play in England. A lot players get turned down for work permits. But the problem is that some players are eligible to apply for EU country passports because of the length of time they have lived in a country. For example, Didier Drogba is Ivorian. But lived in France from childhood and has French citizenship. Michael Essien (a Ghanian) lived in France for many years before joining Chelsea and could've applied for a French passport before coming to England. And there are ways round it. Arsenal sent Carlos Vela (a Mexican) on loan to Spanish clubs for three years to beat immigration rules. I believe he now has a Spanish passport. So that makes him an EU citizen too. The real issue is that the government are powerless in stopping most of the non-EU country born/representative players from playing here.

  • Comment number 69.

    10.At 18:40 12th Oct 2011, Mattdma wrote:

    I can't see Newcastle United being disbanded

  • Comment number 70.

    53 ReallyReal wrote:

    Also, regardless of the relative strength of certain leagues, in Germany EVERY team is not just solvent but free from debt, because of a simple rule they must follow, no 'owner' is allowed to lend any money to a club, they can GIVE whatever they want but debt is not allowed.


    It's an interesting comparison. I would say that the 50+1 model is good as far as preventing predatory takeovers, but that the money to compete at the very top still has to come from somewhere, and with the Bundesliga attracting nothing like the TV revenues of, say, the PL, and with ticket prices averaging something like half the price of those in the PL, then that money comes from sponsorship. iirc the Bundesliga was bringing in over half a billion in sponsorship last season. Far from these sponsors giving money to the clubs as you describe, actually, for example, Bayern Munich sold big chunks of their club off to Adidas a decade ago, and to Audi more recently in return for huge cash injections. And the Allianz has been paid for with debt, repayments running at around 30m euros pa for the last half a decade. If you look at other clubs you see that Wolfsburg is a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagon AG and so on. It's a different model, and though I agree with you about oligarchs and I'd certainly rather pay half a much to go and watch United, I'm not sure it necessarily follows that the Bundesliga model is better, and I certainly don't believe it's proved to be any more competitive than the PL thus far. And even if it is, then that has not translated itself in terms of being competitive in the Champions League. Maybe like most things the balance lies somewhere in between the PL model and the DFL model?

    btw, talking of Liverpool FC obnoxious and misguided call to tear up the collective agreement on overseas TV rights and cast half the PL adrift financially out of pure, self-serving greed, I notice the DFL is in the process of tendering its own rights

  • Comment number 71.

    It's pretty standard for Nibs and Soul Patch. They are both clearly Welsh, Scottish or Irish nationalists who are still upset at being ruled by England.

    The Republic of Ireland has been an independent nation-state for some time. Did you miss that class?

    And you would have to have your own parliament to 'rule' anybody wouldn't you? Otherwise its just a figment of your imagination.

  • Comment number 72.

    WAFU: Well he did come up with the line "I don't have a Spanish passport" which suggests in Spain but not a citizen(otherwise he'd have said "I'm not Spanish").

    Nibs is certainly not British, German would be my best guess(outside bet on Irish). He's a Sebastien Vettel fan who's equally annoying on the F1 blogs but there he trashes "British" sportsmen as opposed to "English" sportsmen.

  • Comment number 73.

    37.At 21:49 12th Oct 2011, Nav Sandhu wrote:

    Yes, it is all Johnny Foreigner's fault, spoiling the game by pouring money into the EPL. Tell me exactly how this is ruining the game? Is it because none of them have invested in your club?

    Also, they are not spoiling your national team. The clubs have the money but the reason they are not spending that on English players is because those pesky foreigners just happen to be better players.

    Invest in youth and change your training methods. Then see what happens.

  • Comment number 74.

    49.At 23:36 12th Oct 2011, MGUK82 wrote:

    "if a team/nation isn't on your radar then logically your first impression is going to be "bunch of nobodies - no worries"."

    No actually. If a team/nation is not on my radar then my first thought is "I wonder how good they are".

  • Comment number 75.

    The FA does need a change, surely they can't carry on they way they are, their greed is sucking the passion from the English fans who spend their hard earned cash traveling to Wembly & away games.

    But then again a lot is wrong with the English game top to bottom. Have to agree as well that it is the Pot-Kettle arguement if the government do get involved.

  • Comment number 76.

    73 it's due to the inflated wages they bring, to the inflated ticket prices this contributes to, and to the eroding of the traditional shared identity between the clubs, its players and its supporters.

    anyway, it's all subjective, and I suppose if you never knew football before the money came then increasinly ridiculous transfer fees, increasingly obscene wages, huge numbers of foreign players, saturation TV coverage, staggered kick-off times, sanitised arenas and extortionate ticket prices must all seem pretty normal to you.

  • Comment number 77.

    @76.At 14:10 13th Oct 2011, TheTrawler wrote:

    And the ELP last had that when? I remember when Trevor Frances became the first million pound player in 1979 and the outcry at that time about how this was a disgusting and obscene amount and how the game was going to hell in a handbasket. It was the xenophobic nature of the original post that I was highlighting and not how the game has changed over the years.

    The two Johnny foreigners who have bought clubs recently are putting their own money into the team leaving them with no debts but these are the guys that everyone is complaining about. Would it be any different if these were two English billionaires who bought Chelsea and Manchester City?

    I believe that people are just jealous that it didn't happen to their clubs.

  • Comment number 78.

    Bigboy: If it's a low profile club that MUFC have drawn in either the domestic Cups or Champions League then yeah I may do a quick bit of online research(confirming which division they're in/country they're from, any players I may have heard of). Low profile nations in particular though tend to be low-profile for a reason(the likes of Montenegro being the exception to the rule).

  • Comment number 79.

    Actually, I would like to know why, at a time when clubs are getting more and more money from TV revenue are the ticket prices rising so steeply? Could it be the fact that there are people that are willing to pay those prices (and have I just answered my own question)?

  • Comment number 80.

    78.At 15:05 13th Oct 2011, MGUK82 wrote:

    With expressions like "bunch of nobodies" and "low profile nations" is it any wonder that people find the average English football fan to be ignorant and arrogant? Do you actually believe that being English and supporting Manchester United makes you a better person and gives you the right to belittle others?

  • Comment number 81.

    I don't consider "low profile" in general terms to be an insult...but in sport as I said, if people have reason to hear of you, then you're a team to be taken seriously. Us amateur sports enthusiasts have to have some basis to make predictions, some way of knowing whether to approach matches with high or low expectations for our team.

    As to whether being an English United fan makes me a better person...hell no, I don't post regularly on United forums anymore because of the anti-England feeling that pervades the supporter base and the English supporter base in general also has it's flaws.

    However, watch football even from a biased perspective for long enough and you tend to see patterns in international football as a whole, teams that have never qualified for tournaments, produced any high profile players etc. It's not a bulletproof way to make predictions and I've been known to look a moron before now(and learn lessons about a team as a result) but it's as good a basis as I know.

  • Comment number 82.

    I'm just getting over the shock of hearing a government sports minister who sounds like he knows what he's talking about. If we ignore the bit about winning a World Cup he is right to say the FA needs a radical shake up. But then most fans have been saying that for years.

  • Comment number 83.

    Soul_ wrote:

    Only Manchester United and the two highest bidders are serious challengers in the EPL. Imagine how bad the EPL would be if Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour had not decided to invest in English teams?

    We'd be talking about Manchester United in the same way as Skonto Riga in Latvia.

    'Skonto Riga'?

    What's the bloke from the lottery adverts got to do with anything?

  • Comment number 84.

    All those players who were bought by Chelsea and City would now be spread around the league like it used to be in the days before the TV money came along and the rich clubs got richer and the poor clubs got poorer. Remember those days, when United didn't win a title for years and years and years.......

  • Comment number 85.

    So... the UK government want to intervene with the English FA. Are they going to intervene in such ways the same as for the other FA's which are in the UK? I think not. The UK government clearly only has England as its interest.

    Also, does everyone seem to forget about the thing where governments are not allowed to tamper or be involved and enforce changes within their country's FA otherwise they would be banned from participating in international competition?

    Or do England think they are too big for that eh?

    David Cameron clearly forgets the above and thinks he's above everyone so it doesn't surprise me he thinks he can do what he wants. If he thought he would be that good at telling the FA what to do then he should have did that instead. But wait, he would have got told where to go if he did it that way.

    I hope he does enforce changes, as then we should see England booted out of the Euro/WC Qualifiers, if theres no corruption or ignorance in FIFA (or other) of course.

    Did anyone in the media forget to mention that when raising a case in this FA/Commons row? I'm surprised the media even want to back the government's idea to start with. All in each others pockets, still.

  • Comment number 86.

    To be fair the UK government only have England in their remit because the Scottish Government have the SFA within their remit.

    The way it worked out was that the SFA commissioned the McLeish Report on structural change and organisational reform: part of which has been implemented in terms of a new transparent, independent, streamlined and fast-track disciplinary process. An overhaul of committee structures is to follow.

    The English FA went through a parliamentary enquiry process. I'm not sure what that means in terms of governmental influence but clearly the English FA are a bit more open to claims of interference if the government decides to 'enforce' change.

  • Comment number 87.

    63.At 10:33 13th Oct 2011, BaconandEgg2wice


  • Comment number 88.

    I think David Bond has got the tone about right. The government make some nothing-much suggestions and rattle a sabre or two. This makes some people think that they are actually doing something constructive, and it gives MPs that warm, fuzzy feeling of being in control of something important to many voters. In reality they don't much want to do anything, because they know that they're probably even more ignorant than the FA about what needs to be done.
    The FA bows, thanks them, and carries on as before. At least Peter Scudamore seems to know what his job is, and how he's going to do it.

    FIFA, whatever else we might say about them, read-the-runes and see no particular reason to take big offence at empty proposals that may not be acted on. I wouldn't be surprised if the proposals had been mutually agreed with the FA before publication. Some in the government, or at the FA, might actually welcome any kind of provocation from Blatter (we know the press would!).

    I am more interested to read about FIFA reaction to Romario (now a politician in Brazil) saying that they would insist on cheap tickets for students and pensioners at the world cup, against FIFA demands. Now that could be a real collision course. But Blatter is smart enough to not fight too many big battles at the same time, and my guess is that England is of little consequence to him right now. So not much change there either.

  • Comment number 89.

    77 I'd be surprised if you honestly do think that opposition to the influence on football as a whole resulting from the sugar-daddy operations at the two clubs you are referring to is founded merely in jealousy. you don't come across as being that stupid.

  • Comment number 90.

    @ 71.

    Ok, scratch the word 'ruled' and replace with '', the sentiments from the nationalists are the same though.




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