Fans can’t trust that the report recommendations will be swiftly implemented while top-flight clubs are profiting from a broken system, writes Laura Lawrence.
Less than 12 hours after the government commissioned review into English football was released, Aston Villa’s chief executive Christian Purslow said the following on the BBC Radio 4 Today show:
“The Premier League has always really been the source of funding for the rest of football and the danger here is of course, as you said, killing the golden goose if we over-regulate a highly successful financial and commercial operation.”
Nothing to see here. Just the free-market economy working so well for the few and not the many. The Premier League sucked up all the money long ago so clubs further down the pyramid had no choice but to rely on begrudged handouts.
Of course, the “golden goose” doesn’t want government intervention. What’s in it for them when the system has been weighted to their advantage?
Former Sports Minister and chair of the review panel Tracey Crouch, believes the answer lies in a new independent regulator. While the governing bodies (The Football Association, Premier League and English Football League) acknowledge changes need to be made they believe they can solve the problems between themselves. I give a hearty laugh to that one. Especially at the FA who have been as useful as a chocolate fireguard as English football goes up in flames.
The report laid out 47 recommendations to stop the industry from “lurching from crisis to crisis”. The report itself is sound. Recommendations include changes to the Owners’ and Directors’ Tests and assessments of the flow of money through the leagues.
The protection of clubs from free-market economics has also been addressed in the review. The heritage of clubs should be taken into account and guarded. The recommendation is to introduce into legislation a “golden share” for supporters so they would have a say over major plans such as moving grounds. These protections are needed but the report doesn’t address how situations like Newcastle United’s ownership would be addressed.
Villa’s CEO doesn’t believe that a “government appointee” is the right person to take on the issues within football. “We killed the Super League in 48 hours. It’ll take her (Crouch) 48 weeks to appoint someone.”
While I agree with the sentiment that it may move at a glacial government pace, if members of the Premier League hadn’t attempted the Super League coup in the first place this intervention wouldn’t be as high on the government agenda.
If it was anyone other than this government, I might trust that the findings of this report would be implemented but they have just voted for the free-market privateers to sit on NHS primary care trust panels. Football’s governing bodies will sit on this report for as long as possible. Don’t expect quick changes. The few are making money from the broken system. That will sound familiar to this government.
Follow Laura on Twitter @YICETOR