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Football's failings under review again

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Matt Slater | 12:49 UK time, Saturday, 30 July 2011

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.

Club licensing

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.

Club ownership

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.

As well as my blogs, you can follow me when I'm out and about at


  • Comment number 1.

    Let's hope that this time the Secretary Of State For Sport has more backbone than his predecesors.

  • Comment number 2.

    Matt - Good blog, you have set out some of the main issues quite clearly, although in all honestly its is unlikely that any of the new 'suggestions' will be acted upon until the 'Governance' of football is completely separated from the 'Business' of football.....albeit still preferably under one unifying organisation.

    As the above is as likely to happen as 'hell freezing over', then the Commons Committee should be told, 'nice try, but no cigar!' The English FA has time and again over many years now, but in particular the last 5 or so years demonstrated its 'unfitness for purpose' and whilst the Premier League also has much to answer for, I cannot see them ever giving much consideration to 'football Governance' that eminates from the EFA? Stalemate I'm afraid!!

  • Comment number 3.

    As sad as it is to say this-nothing will change. Money talks, and that will always prove a bigger carrot to the FA fatcats than proper governance.

    As for the national team, I reckon we will get lucky in a major tournament (maybe the semis?) and all talk of reform will be put off as we tell ourselves we aren't that bad.

    As wierd as it is to type this, Gareth Southgate is probably Englands hope. If he can sort out youth development we might be alright. Gulp.

  • Comment number 4.

    Two words

    Salary Cap

  • Comment number 5.

    Players ask for millions because the appeal & theoretical money available to the oweners of many Premier league clubs ALLOWS them to. If any club says no, then they will go to another. Loyalty has been taken over by agents & the £. However, any person will go for more money if it's available, I'm not defending Wayne Rooney, etc - just truth. Only when there is Europe-wide salary cap & going elsewhere will be decided by chance of playin, winning silverware, appeal, etc will there be a change - or fans could boycott ... (dream on)

  • Comment number 6.

    Thanks Matt, good stuff.

    As you are already hinting at, the same abysmal line up of Blazers will scurry around, produce a project plan, identify tasks and produce a lengthy report after which they can breathe a sigh of relief until the next time.

    It's hopeless.

    Sadly, we don't have a secretary of state for sport, it's a watered down roll up with "culture and media" whatever that may be.

    Sport comes nowhere to our Politicians, although their mugs will be seen everywhere come the Olympics, glad-handinf any British winner they can find.

    As the FA never seem to answer to anyone, if this government is really serious then they should have taken control now. They aren't backward in coming forward to appoint "Czars" for everything else. Put a team in place to wreak havoc at the FA - you only have to read papers watch tv and listen to radio to know there are better qualified people than the FA to run the game.

    We always hear about the marvellous work of the FA at grassroots level. Perhaps they do, I don't know. I tend to look at the FA in terms of it's governance, then as the team presiding over the National side.

    Ericcson reappointed, McClaren, Capello reappointed - it's almost beyond belief useless decision making. I'm not even sure that reappointing Stuart Pearce is deserved - unless tournament qualification is enough. You don't win stuff by "passion" alone but by excellent coaching skills and tactics. Our U21's were dismal (robbed of a few players) and the future is not so bright in my opinion.

    Ok, rant over.

    I am just sick to the back teeth with unaccountable people wrecking our game.

  • Comment number 7.

    The fans have been saying there have been problems for over a decade, it is far too late to do something about it now the damage is already done. Football has lost all touch with reality

  • Comment number 8.

    If they get rid of the football creditors rule that will honestly get rid of a lot of the financial issues facing clubs. For example, the likes of Tottenham wouldn't have sold players at inflated sums to Portsmouth if they weren't assured of having their debts protected.

    People like Sol Campbell, Peter Crouch and Jermaine Defore wouldn't have signed contracts if they weren't guaranteed of receiving the sums and by the same token, players will be willing to accept £30k which they know a club can definitely afford rather than sign a contract for £50k with a club that may not actually have the money in the bank.

    Hopefully the government and HMRC will have the strength to challenge this rule in the courts or amend existing legislation to see it through.

  • Comment number 9.

    Nothing will ever change because no one will do the right thing because everyone is "in it" for themselves riding the gravy train, anyone who gets in their way will become a cropper. You can't change those minds who don't want to be changed, instead we need to sack the lot and start afresh because quite simply put The FA is a joke. All that posturing over the failed bid was pathetic. If the FA wanted to be taken seriously why wasn't there someone to stand against Blatter in the recent elections, it just shows the FA has no creditability at home just like abroad.

  • Comment number 10.

    Spot on, Chief.

  • Comment number 11.

    6. At 17:59 30th Jul 2011, The Lincolnshire Poacher wrote:
    Ericcson reappointed, McClaren, Capello reappointed - it's almost beyond belief useless decision making.

    Eriksson has won 17 major trophies in his career. McLaren took Middlesbrough to the UEFA Cup final, and look what happened when he left. Capello won four titles in five years with AC Milan, but admittedly has never since been that successful. But still, if you want to moan about undeserving managers, at least pick on the right targets. Gordon Strachan, for example: acceptable with Celtic, which is pretty much a 50/50 chance of winning the league any given year, abysmal with Middlesbrough and mediocre at best with Coventry and Southampton. Hopefully his ride on the managerial merry-go-round has come to an end.

    Anyway, Mr Slater, good article. Very concise, very comprehensible. Here's hoping something actually happens for once. It's about damn time something did.

  • Comment number 12.

    Too often reviews, like "meetings" and "inquiries", are created simply as a means for the powerful to rubber-stamp what they were going to do anyway. It is just shop-fronting to show people that "something is being done", so we shouldn't be too surprised to see MPs wanting to get their oar in.
    Paradoxically, if changes do occur then FIFA and Sepp-fit-and-proper-Blatter might object, just as they did when Poland was trying to clean up it's FA.

  • Comment number 13.

    Hello Harry,

    I'm more than happy with my 'targets'.

    I was ok with Eriksson (thankyou!) first time around, but as I said, after the World Cup the reappointment was very wrong.

    The same applies to Capello, a world cup disaster yet reappointed straight away! Why? Money? If the FA blunder over the contract is it ok to continue with him because of that? Return to the post England elimination press conference and see the FA in action. "Mention younger players, then run, Fabio"

    Both wonderful club managers though, can't disagree with that.

    As for McLaren, was he really the best available at the time. No, but the groundswell of opinion was that we "must now go with an Englishman" and the rudderless FA panic and appoint a man who has a record that wouldn't put him in the same league as Eriksson or Capello. But he did have a winning smile though, so fair play FA.

    Please don't reply, my blood pressure is going through the roof!


  • Comment number 14.

    Really worried about English football. We're going backward at a rate of knots. The whole setup is not geared to create success for the national team. Club football rules and it looks like it will continue to do so. There are not enough English players playing for the top clubs in the Champions League. This is crucial in buidling confidence to compete at the highest level such as high pressure knockout matches at the Euros and Worlds. The so called "Golden generation" have not won or got close to winning anything and the next generation of youngsters are not on a par with those from other leading European countries. It's the fans who suffer the most as there's so much passion and support there. Football needs to learn from other British sports that have been successful, but unfortunately there's too much ignorance and arrogance within the FA.

  • Comment number 15.

    The FA have no mandate to even think they can dictate when players should be released from cubs to perform their bidding. The Premier League have stated before that they are in direct competition with the FA. Sky Sports are interested in what is generating the most income, most frequently (i.e. weekly EPL football syndicated to 200+ countries). Get this: ironically, it is only FIFA that can recover this position, IMO. Someone strong enough need to come forward with a vision to bring everyone together. Someone who can demonstrate that coexistance is the way forward. I have my 10 commandments - given recent events I hesitate to call it a manifesto - but it is my take on what is needed for change:

    Vertically integrated governing bodies of football (local, national, international).

    Vertically integrated league structures (local, national and international).

    Elite Leagues and FAs to be jointly accountable for national representative sides

    Tiered pricing structures for match ticket allocations (better ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’)

    Standard business practices to football clubs, which should be treated as any other business, subject to the same - get rid of the Football Creditors Rule.

    FA coaching courses, structured so that coaches do not have to book weeks off work to get qualified

    Small sided football up to and including Yr6 of 4v4s & 5v5s only.

    A Multi Agency innovative approach to MUGAs (Multi Use Games Areas).

    Ethical and sustainable targets for all football stakeholders across the game

    A membership scheme for this movement with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) assigned to football stakeholders, which will be publicised, marketed and reported on at an Annual General Meeting (AGM).

  • Comment number 16.

    While fans still fill stadiums and buy shirts etc thus ensuring more money flooding into clubs and the FA where is the incentive for them to change? As supporters/consumers we have the power but do not exercise it. The FA has been a shambles for years. @13, Capello wasn't reappointed after the dismal W.C. he was given a bumper new contract BEFORE a game was played! What did they think, England were really going to win in South Africa and thus all top teams would be head-hunting him, so best tie him down on a long fat deal beforehand? Enough people squeal about FIFA and it's untouchables, shouldn't we start with our own first?

  • Comment number 17.

    Why should the Government be intervening in this industry? Where is the market failure, where is the compelling case for Government intervention, where is the evidence that Government can do better than the industry? Why should the EPL accept direction from an FA board on which it has only one of nine places? Which other industry faces such regulation and non-representative governance? Which industry would accept it?

    Government should stick to activities where its role is really necessary, perhaps about a third of what it does at present.

    I write as an economist who has advised Prime Ministers of the UK and Australia and state premiers in Oz.

  • Comment number 18.

    To simply conclude the thoughts of everyone who loves, and enjoys the sport; There is too little accountability in football, the English PL and the World Cup - arguably the top most commercial, are made possible by the passion of the fans making it such a spectacle.

    I'm just sick of seeing games decided on bad decisons, teams like Barca getting away with stuff like this; and FIFA elections having only one canditate. It's time they were more open, and time they had a body to answer too. Sepp 'Sith Lord' Blatter needs to go.

    Good blog article though, keep em up!

  • Comment number 19.

    Comment #17 hits the nail on the head footy's an industry. It's big business, and it pays no heed to anything but 'the market'. You can moan about club loyalty or national pride as much as you like, but you may as well treat your football like your family shopping and take your business elsewhere if you are not happy...What has the Government got to do with it?

  • Comment number 20.

    Take a cheap shot at leeds...

    Why not at Chelsea or MANC for having owners who have made a mint selling raw materials while the people of their country suffer...

    Why not at MANU and Liverpool considering that the US(and i am sure you don't need me to tell you they are USA owned) has a massive economic and sociological problems? So much so that it threatens either/or a double dip recession or another set of people entering poverty in expense of the rich.

    We haven't even got on to Portsmouth and Birmingham yet.

    Why not a change the blog title from "Will football review change anything?" to "WILL FOOTBALL CHANGE ANYTHING ?"

    We have given a world cup to country smaller in population than Wales that has human rights issues that Libya could be proud of; On the pretence of giving to third world countries...

    So I ask you Matt Slater. When will you (And to be fair to you I enjoy your articles an awful lot more than the average journalists on this site) and your colleagues write about something other than idiosyncratic drivel ?

  • Comment number 21.

    In expense should read "Or another set of people entering poverty because of the rich. "

    You know what I mean.

  • Comment number 22.

    By refusing to draw Azerbaijan with Armenia, and Russia with Georgia in the same groups for the next World Cup, FIFA have proven what they have for so long vehemently denied. They CAN and WILL manipulate the fixtures for whatever reason they see fit.
    They claim that the reason is to avoid political conflict and possible fan violence, but by being in separate groups all four could possibly advance to the finals in Brazil, so what is to prevent that same conflict and violence there?
    Who is to say for sure that this manipulation can not also apply to match results?
    For that matter, who can say for sure that it hasn't in the past?

    For that matter will the moderator pass this comment for publishing, since it raises valid points which some vested interests don't want addressed?

  • Comment number 23.

    Football signed it own death warrant when it started taking money from Sky. Since then it has become an obscene circus. Sadly, there is no way back.

  • Comment number 24.

    The likes of the premier and football leagues, are at the end of the day just stakeholders with vested interests and should be separate from the decision making process. The FA must represent an holistic view of the game and separate itself from the money making business. This means ditching the current executive board organisation and having just the FA, current SOS for C,M and S and player representatives. The PL and football league (as well as fans) are then just a series of lobby groups trying to get the FA's support but with no real power.

  • Comment number 25.

    1. Club ownership by Supporters Trust only
    2. Salary Cap
    3. Fixed term contracts (ie: no buying and selling of players)

    It's either that or lose the whole league pyramid.

  • Comment number 26.

    The sport in this country is a disgrace - you only have to watch Dispatches recently to know that our clubs our up for sale at the whim of some Thai guy in a backstreet pub. The game is broken and fans are exploited shamelessly. The only solution, to help bring the game back under control, is if fans unite and boycott the stadiums and scrap their sky subscriptions. Only then will we chase the money men and greedy foreign profiteers out.

    That is the only soltuion, deep down we know it. I dread to think what might happen in the next 10 years. The clubs have all behaved disgracefully, borrowing money 24/7, leveraged buy outs etc. The have to be held accountable for their greed.

  • Comment number 27.

    To the poster of comment 20, you can't compare Birmingham to Portsmouth yet unless we go into administration. We are selling our players to bring our debt down and thus keep the bank happy who have also said that they are happy with this and will be taking no actions agansit the club as the debt is coming down fast due to player sales. Of course this has an effect on the pitch but at least we are no where near the debt problems that Portsmouth had and a lot of premier league clubs have now who are bailed out by wealthy owners.

  • Comment number 28.

    Posts nos 16 & 19 are spot on. Modern day football is an industry dictated by market forces like any other. The myth of the free market is that it encourages open competition but in reality it kills competition stone dead in favour of the blanket domination of a few elite brands, in footballs case the big rich clubs like Man Utd, Chelsea, Real Madrid, AC Milan and so on. Whatever changes are proposed by the governing bodies will in no way challenge the never ending dominance of these clubs with their immense wealth and power which has strangled the lifeblood out of the game and so any new proposals will just be a cosmetic exercise.

  • Comment number 29.

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

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi Matt. You briefly mentioned the existence of County Football Associations, which most people probably don't know exist. I deal with my local one a lot, they recently moved into brand new premises and seem to be doing pretty well. It would have occurred to me that these people know a whole lot about football. Maybe they should be the ones that are voting, maybe it depends on what they are voting on. Clubs do have a chance to vote within the Prem/Football League/other meetings so it is not as if they are just passengers.

    Regarding football creditor rule, the only possible alternative is that clubs don't do business with clubs that might not be able to pay in the future. Which, unless you in the top 6 of the Premiership, is all of them, I think almost any club could hit financial problems if relegated. Instalment/clause transfer payments would be history. If you are relegated, it would probably hasten your descent towards admin and obliteration, no one would sell you players. The rule is unfair at face value but it would be a dramatic change and could be damaging to football.

    By the way, two years ago my local club, Southampton, were taken over by a little known Swiss-German businessman. He died a year later, and because of the plans that he put in place Southampton are now run professionally, openly and sustainably. A few more Liebherr's and a few less Bates's/Indian chicken factory's/Thai cigarette manufacturers would not be bad news for football. Hopefully the FA can set out a clear and robust ownership test criteria soon.

  • Comment number 31.

    We have got the monster we deserve, the Premiership, set up by who? Murdoch!
    So until he is brought down and people say no to Sky controlling all sport, nothing will change. They are doing the same with F1 now, buy Sky if you want to watch all the races or you get to watch some with the BBC, great. Sky have too much power.

  • Comment number 32.

    Just so long as the football crditor's rule is abolished so that the right people "suffer" who could care less what happens.

  • Comment number 33.

    Agree with FatFreddysCat and above, although this is a reassuring post especially for Dundee supporters who are almost supporter-run, but keep having stupid people at the top end of the chain muck it up for us. With the return of Barry Smith at the helm I an sure he can help the people at grass roots level come through

  • Comment number 34.

    I've stopped caring about the suits in the game with corporate tastes and seats to match. Let their bellies and 3 chin corporate fluff do it's thing. I include journalists in that breed.

    My contempt for them is only matched by their contempt for me.

    It always will be, always was, and is, about only 2 groups. Fans and Players. That's it. Simple as.

  • Comment number 35.

    Also 100% agree with QWERTY, without a family-styled run football club, there can be no improvement.

    Just thought I'd like to mention that "Lieb" is a prefix meaning fav(ourite) in German :)

  • Comment number 36.

    Agree with ComeEnglandAway as well

  • Comment number 37.

    Although not about journalists as if you didnt have them, how would you be reading this?

  • Comment number 38.

    whats a point in having a blog that invites comments if the comments hardly work?

  • Comment number 39.

    unless you type less than 30 words

  • Comment number 40.

    @17, Football is not in any way run by 'market forces' and if you aren't Joshing and really had those roles as an advisor, well, that explains why all those countries are in such a mess....... ;)

    How many industries have sugar daddy owners spending colossal amounts on them with no hope of a return? None. No businessman in his right mind spends more money on an enterprise than he (or she) expects to get back. Hell will freeze over before Chelsea's Czar ever sees a return on his investment, and the way the City boys are spending, make that ice 200 hundred feet thick before they see any return on their venture.

    At the same time football clubs are saddled with ruinous debt, have wage bills they can't sustain without external organisations pumping revenue in, and only 'break even' when non generated revenue is included.

    That's not business, that's a recipe for disaster.

    As people have pointed out above, and this is critical, football IS, lest we forget, a sport. As such it commands loyalty, it generates uncritical support, neither of which any genuine commercial enterprise can count on. If the products bad, which quite frankly it increasingly is, people still flock to watch. In the real World of business, if the products bad, you either improve it, or you fold. How many football clubs have folded since the war and never come back? Only one.

    Matt's article is spot on. Govt should indeed be getting involved in our national game because it isn't JUST a business. It effects local communities, it inspires our young, it effects our national pride.

    If that isn't govt business, what is?

    Sadly, as other posters have said, football will just ignore this report as it has so many others, bar one: and that one was adopted only because it gave the clubs the chance to exclude the 'unwashed' from football stadia.

    After all, why should the people who gave the game it's life and kept it going for over a hundred years be allowed to muddy the brave new World of the 'global' game....................

  • Comment number 41.

    The FA has been unfit for purpose for decades, and they are what holds back the England team, English football and development. But nothing will change, because, like FIFA, they sit in their ivory tower, take all the benefits and stick two fingers up to everybody else. They know they can get away with it, they know there is nobody who can dislodge them, they know they make their own laws.
    Why would the FA change? why would turkeys vote for Christmas?

    Post #34 couldn't have put it better - my contempt for those in power at the FA is only matched by their contempt for me (the fans).

  • Comment number 42.

    The Creditors Rule should be forced upon them all by law and once everyone is equally protected, then just leave the 'game' to ruin itself by its own greed. It will eventually find a level and if along the way some rich playboys lose a couple of £billion and some players find themselves unable to afford the 14th bedroom on their second mansion, then good.

    Take the power away from the players. Allow the clubs to recover the loss of asset from those who decide to 'force' their way out of a club. Allow the clubs to 'sack' players resulting in a recovery of lost revenue and a removal of their 'license' to play professional football until the debts are settled.

    As for the national side, get tough on those who don't respect the shirt and give the manager 100% control of everything!

    Don't want to play for your country? Thanks we'll find someone who can make up the gap in talent with passion, it's all the same in the end and you can go and earn your millions safe in the knowledge that England will never come calling again. No matter how good you think you are!

  • Comment number 43.

    Football, like MPs, the banks and the press is one of the most unregulated areas of our national life in terms of money making potential. Almost anyone it seems can own a PLclub in England. the debacle at Portsmouth was just the tip of the iceberg. Who can forget that Man City's former owner ended up in a Thai jail and now Birmingam City's owner is in deep water.
    Like rabbits in a flashing headlight PL bosses are seduced by money and their "fit and proper test" is not worth the paper it is written on.

  • Comment number 44.

    Although a review is vital and necessary to make the changes the games governance requires, this bunch of MP's aren't man enough and neither is the FA willing to do a proper job. Expect some tinkering, so posturing, some blowing of trumpets . . . then carry on pretty much as before.

  • Comment number 45.

    Yet another government based report which appears to over concentrate on financial issues, hardly something that this government is well qualified to do.

    Firstly stop looking to the Bundesliga for answers. Yes our "fit and proper persons" test is a bit of a joke but any proof that the German model is any better?

    Secondly why have a ten year limit for any FA post holders. Its arguable that Graham Kelly was amongst the better FA secretary's of recent times, he served more than ten years at both Football League and the FA. In recent years there has been all too much of a lack of respect for experience in many walks of life. Too much a change for change sake culture.

    Yes there are elements of the FA which need change but are politicians really the people to put that particular house in order?

    Finally are supporter owned clubs really the answer?. I'm all for an elected supporter or two on the board but beyond that do we not just get into a different style of football politics?

  • Comment number 46.

    The people that run football in England are doing a fantastic job. I can't work out for the life of me why they get so much criticism.

    Foreign investmnet in our league is incredible, people flock to grounds paying unbelievable fees for entrance, food, drink and club shirts etc, viewers pay large sums to watch the game on TV not just in the U.K. but around the world. Stadiums have been upgraded too. Players are celebrities. Newspapers and other forms of media are awash with news about football and the people involved. This reflects the massive level of interest generated by this so called dreadful mess!

    The majority of fans are now more interested in their clubs than the national team - as are the players.

    If a club goes bust it simply writes off most of its debts and gets going again often attracting new, mega rich owners (i.e Southampton).

    Sure football may now be more of an entertainment than a sport, but look at the number of people that go to games or watch on telly. Football in England is going through a stunningly successful period. Why do people moan about it?

  • Comment number 47.


    thats all it should be is fans and players, the fans have total control in the world of football but they are weak to do anything about getting priced out of football for the well being of the suits. please universe you done it to the dinosaurs now lets have some human extinction please.

  • Comment number 48.

    @45.At 10:00 1st Aug 2011, cainsworld wrote:
    Firstly stop looking to the Bundesliga for answers. Yes our "fit and proper persons" test is a bit of a joke but any proof that the German model is any better?
    Any proof ? Name a German club in debt , or that has gone into administration ? German football is about Germany , the fans and national side . Is English football about the fans and the national team ?

    I agree with the many on here who say the Creditors Rule must be enforced . How can a club pay a player £XXk when they owe that to a local company keeping maybe 20-30 employed ? In the end instead of one out of work footie-bawler you get a couple of dozen regular everyday people down the job centre .

    If anyone saw the Alan Sugar documentry on football he made a point I quite agree with . Until football clubs are treated fully like businesses and a few go under no body will stop this merry mess we have .

    A few here have mentioned salary caps , one even european wide this are unworkable and on the very point of , against the law . If Club A cant afford to pay player H they shouldnt , it makes no business sense . OK so he goes to a bigger club , fine let them pay him . The rules of FFP that should be coming in will hopefully make this harder .

    In the PL clubs last seaon were £500m in debt collectively , only Wolves were not in debt . Some of these are of a nature that can be sustained and cleared others arent . Liverpool , Man U large debts but should be cleared in a few years . The ones more worrying are Sunderland and Wigan both around the £70m mark , on a turnover of £65m and £49m respectively . Man City spend about 25% more than thier turnover ,not including the new sponsorship deal as of yet for obvious reasons , if this continues will see them unable to compete in Europe and be total non-sellable .

    Any government report , committee or minister will have their work cut out simple to fashion rules which can be apllied relatively to each part of the football family . From chairmen and owners , to players , to fans , there is no quick fix solution , each group needs to be looked after to advance the game . Starting at the fans would leave gaps in dealing with chairmen , looking after the clubs - are they for profit , investment or entertainment ?- would leave the fans on the outside looking in .

  • Comment number 49.

    The 'Fans' always complain about the way the F.A. or the premier league is run and blame government for doing nothing about it, but do nothing themselves just sit at home posting on comment pages...If you want to change clubs and the F.A. you have to hit them in the pocket - get together, get organised - STOP buying your season tickets - STOP buying the 3-4 shirts a season - STOP buying any merchandise - STOP your sky sports subscription for one year. If the 'Fans' did this in an organised fashion changes would happen a hell of a lot quicker than via any goverment intervention...but the fans won't get organised, the fans won't stop paying and therefore the clubs, the FA and the premiership/championship/leagues won't either and why should they? as long as the Fans are paying they can claim they are giving people what they want!

  • Comment number 50.

    My 10-step plan for world football:

    1) FIFA Club Licences to be issued, via national federations, depending on financial proberty, provision of a quota of affordable tickets, work in the community and so on.

    2) International call-ups to be compulsory for players up to 34 years of age. FIFA make under-age international tournaments and the Olympic football tournaments part of the international calendar and force clubs to release players.

    3) All tournaments must use goal difference, not head-to-head, to separate teams level on points.

    4) All World Cups to be held in Mexico or Germany, preventing 'white elephant' syndrome and undermining ability of ExCo to use World Cup voting power for ill purposes. However, these two nations must still negotiate qualification tournaments.

    5) Maximum of two four-year terms for FIFA and FA presidents.

    6) Release of all FIFA documentation to the media, including minutes of congress.

    7) Provision of television review to fourth officials in all top-level matches. Necessary facilities a condition of entry into Champions League and so on.

    8) Condition of entry into major international championships that rights to qualifying matches must be sold to free-to-air channels in both home and away team's countries. Tournaments themselves free-to-air only.

    9) Home shirts only unless a direct colour class in international fixtures. New kits issued at start of World Cup cycle and no other time.

    10) International tournament Finals to be replayed if scores are level after extra time. Penalty competitions after replay only.

  • Comment number 51.

    Not quite sure what the blog is saying. Seems to me a blog for the sake of a blog. There's nothing else interesting!!!!
    Anyway I agree completely with No 46. The Premier League is booming - this is fantastic for all us supporters.
    Why do we want the government to keep interfering? Politicians can't solve the country's social and debt problems - do we really want them to interfere with football - definitely not - the less we hear from our politicians the better off we all are.
    If you don't like what's going on - vote with your money and your feet. Stop your sky subscription and give up your season ticket. I did this years ago and I still enjoy it all. I have not missed anything. This is the only way to force change - where it hurts - in the pockets of the huge egos.

  • Comment number 52.


    your milk is fresh bob, good post.

  • Comment number 53.

    At 11:42 1st Aug 2011, murry1975 wrote:

    @45.At 10:00 1st Aug 2011, cainsworld wrote:
    Firstly stop looking to the Bundesliga for answers. Yes our "fit and proper persons" test is a bit of a joke but any proof that the German model is any better?
    Any proof ? Name a German club in debt , or that has gone into administration ? German football is about Germany

    Yes. Borussia Dortmund had serious debt issues, which you can look up on the internet for more details about.

  • Comment number 54.

    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) .

    Trust someone from the BBC to complain about people in the English FA being white and male.

  • Comment number 55.

    At the end of the day business is business, fans need to realise that.
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 56.

    @53.At 15:20 1st Aug 2011, Vox Populi wrote:
    Yes. Borussia Dortmund had serious debt issues
    HAD debt yes , they sold the Westphalian (I think thats what it is called ) , but I specifically asked IN debt . If I was to list out all the clubs in England who have had a debt in the past in would be typing for some while . There are other German examples as well but they seem to have learned more from them than the FA/PL/League have learned from 19 PL teams .

  • Comment number 57.

    A very interesting article- the points laid out sound great in an ideal world. However, it just wont happen. These sort of things are produced every couple of years, usually when england crash out of a tournament and, as always, we as a nation look for someone else to blame. Oh its the grassroots, oh its the foriegners. How about we just arent good enough?
    Yes there are certain things that need to be done to protect the future of the game but when there is so much power lying with the players then nothing will ever change.

  • Comment number 58.

    Good blog Matt - I would come back on the football creditors rule, though. You mention the local businesses who are often stiffed by this (a sentiment i wholeheartedly agree with), but the bigger issue is the millions lost out on by HMRC. When clubs (e.g. Portsmouth) continue to pay huge salaries for weeks after stopping forwarding anything to the taxman, that's effectively stealing from every single citizen of the UK - and whatever other issues I have with them, I fully support HMRC on their increasingly tough stance on this issue.

    Im all for making sure Bob's Catering Supplies isn't out of pocket, but large scale tax fraud (which is really what the football creditors rule has allowed to happen) is the far bigger issue.

  • Comment number 59.

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

  • Comment number 60.

    #11, Harry_Hotspur makes a really valid point about England managers. Erikson has a superb record at club level. McClaren will always be remembered by Middlesbrough and Twente Enschede fans as their BEST EVER manager And Capello's record at club level is magnificent. So why don't England perform on the big stage?
    The problem has to be elsewhere. Is it over hyped players who genuinely believe they are better than they actually are?
    Is it an ineffectual FA who allow Wenger to force Wilshire to withdraw from England Under 21 tournament. He would have definitely improved as a player in that tournament and we might even have won (Pearce's team weren't far off)?
    Is it the media, who always seem to try to destroy the heart of the team just before the major tournaments. (NoW rot in hell)?
    Or do we just deny too many English players a chance to thrive by filling our Premiership teams with second rate foreigners?

    As long as clubs continue to push the limits of financial suicide and get away with it. As long as teams pay ridiculous salaries which they can't afford but are afraid to refuse. As long as government doesn't give a damn, we are destined to ride a sickening rollercoaster which will see many of our clubs, small and massive, spiral into oblivion.

  • Comment number 61.

    I asked my new employer if it was ok if i didnt work saturdays because i played football.
    I used my dinner hour to get in a 5-a-side game.
    I took a sicky to watch United play in europe (here i had to wear a head scarf for fear of getting a suntan!).
    - the first i was 17 years old, the second i was 36 and the last 42.
    Thats passion for football. I question how many of these hopeless decison makers have this feeling for our game. Like many unpaid football supporters I cry at the lack of organisation and success at ALL ages of our beautiful game.
    On a positive side: Futsal is making its mark to improve skills and standards; Capello will go soon and yesterday i saw a feild full of young kids being coached the finer arts and skills of football on the same day the English cricket team became No. 1 in the world! There is hope and it's in the hearts and minds of our youth.


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