Thursday, 21 January 2010

Football authorities watch no.1

So it's now ten days since the publication of Red Football's bond prospectus. Ten days of massive coverage in the media, of justified anger by supporters, of petitions and protest groups being established and ten days during which I can't recall seeing any comment at all from the people in charge of the national game; the FA and the Premier League.

Such silence is even more curious given the fact that these bodies are the ones who have allowed the pillaging of United to happen. Either organisation has the authority to introduce whatever rules they see fit to regulate the financial affairs of member clubs, neither has chosen to do anything to prevent the asset stripping of Manchester United.

So I thought I'd start a regular(ish) check on any public utterances by these "custodians" of the game on United's financial woes or the wider debt crisis threatening English football.

There are four key individuals in positions of power at the FA and Premier League (who are independent of member clubs). They are:

Lord Triesman - Chairman of the Football Association
Ian Watmore - Chief Executive of the Football Association

Sir David Richards - Chairman of the Premier League
Richard Scudamore - Chief Executive of the Premier League

Using the power of Google and the organisations' own websites, here is what they've been saying about the debt crisis afflicting the game since 11th January 2010:

Triesman- nothing
Whatmore - nothing
Richards - nothing
Scudamore - spoke to 5Live's Sportsweek programme (on Sunday 17th January) his club specific comments mainly related about the crisis at Portsmouth (download audio here). Highlights include:

'Given the amount of central income that is generated by the Premier League, it would be down to absolutely rank bad management if a club itself was actually to go into administration.'

[On intervening to set what clubs can and can't do financially] 'We can only go by our rule book. I don't think anyone wants the Premier League running football clubs, it's very much for the owners to run the football clubs.'

'In fairness to the people at Portsmouth and [Pompey chief executive] Peter Storrie and the people who are running that club, they are working very, very hard and have worked extremely hard to live the dream [oops] for Portsmouth.'

'They've had a succession of owners through there and the people there now are scrabbling very hard to make sure this football club stays alive.'

'There's only a certain point at which we can intervene. We changed our rules in September and now, when we see the financials [reports] that come in from clubs at the end of March, we will be able to take a stronger role to come in and make sure they are sustainable.'

'Do you want to just have a club that barely survives in the Premier League? Do you actually want to own a club that is safely mid-table? Do you want to own a club that pushes for Europe? Do you want to own a club that guarantees being in the Champions League?'
'Your attitude and answers to those questions give you an answer as to what sort of money might be required and we at the Premier League are never going to be intervening to the level where we decide how much it needs to run a club.'

'Debt per se is not bad. It's the amount of debt relative to your income that's the critical issue.'