Monday, 5 March 2012

The debate on Football Governance is now gathering momentum

Following last months football governance debate in Parliament in which I criticised the ownership arrangements of Blackburn Rovers (see previous posts or Hansard or, media reports have begun to appear tracking what has been a two year debate.

This week I received the first of what appears to be a round robin circular addressed to MP's to take action. Importantly I think it is a very informative letter and have posted for others the benefit of readers.

Dear Graham Jones MP, The Government has this week received the response from the football authorities (the FA, Premier League and Football League) to the DCMS Select Committee's report on Football Governance (published in July, and the Government's subsequent response (published in October The next few days are therefore a crucial period while the Government considers how to respond.

As you are probably aware there is huge concern about ownership and governance of football clubs amongst supporters but there is currently a very real opportunity for change. I'd be grateful if you'd contact the sports minister urgently to ensure he understands how strong the support is for real reform of football with both a truly independent FA Board and also a truly independent club licensing system. The DCMS Select Committee recommended this and it was also recommended by Government and received cross party support but it appears football's vested interests are resisting change.

Many football supporters have become frustrated with the way that our game is governed, and I am writing to encourage you to do all that you can to push for the implementation of the proposals for a far-reaching club licensing system (details here:, developed by Supporters Direct and launched at the Houses of Parliament on February 1st.

Over 40 MPs attended the launch, reflecting the cross-party support for the proposals, which outline ways in which football supporters can become more involved in the decision-making process at their clubs, as well as how clubs can be run in a more sustainable manner.

I would be immensely grateful if you could contact the Minister for Sport and the Olympics: outlining your support for the proposals, the widespread backing they are receiving from your colleagues in the house, and millions of football supporters across the country.

In particular there is a major concern that football’s vested interests are strongly resisting change (as reported in the Daily Telegraph ). For the reforms to be meaningful the Government must remain determined to force through change as the FA is unable to do this due to its lack of independence under the very structure which requires reform. In particular the commitment to a revised and truly independent FA Board is essential and the Government and Select Committee proposal of a 10 member board including 6 independent directors should not be compromised.

Furthermore for the proposed club licensing system to be effective it must be truly independent not just in its enforcement but also, crucially, the rules that make up the license must be set independently and cannot be allowed to be dictated or vetoed by the vested interests (clubs, leagues) that they are intended to regulate.

Therefore I'd be most grateful if you would write to the Sports Minister outlining support for these real reforms, encouraging him to remain resolute despite the anticipated resistance from vested interests. This really is a once in a generation opportunity to change football for the better but there is only a short period left to influence the outcome. Perhaps you would be kind enough to let me see any response?

Many thanks for your support on this matter

1. DCMS Select Committee report on Football Governance
2. Government response to the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Inquiry:
3. Supporters Direct proposals for club licensing system:
4. Cost of Glazers' takeover at Manchester United reaches £500m. Despite seven years of success under the Glazers' rule, United have leaked half a billion to service the debt-laden ownership. David Conn, The Guardian
5. Football Supporters Federation express alarm at response to select committee inquiry into sport governance of the sport - Telegraph