Friday 9 March 2012

The issues the football authorities won't address

So finally, we now get to see "football's response" to the government's call for the game to reform itself.

What a damp squib.

You can see the "response" here, page after page of moving blazers around committees and no action. It's a depressing document more concerned with preserving the status quo than looking at the real issues; debt and financial mismanagement, ownership, ticket prices etc.

Debt, the cancer that kills clubs and costs fans gets one mention. Actually it doesn't, the word "debt" appears as in "debt of thanks". Thanks for nothing.

Crucially, the authorities have chosen to ignore government suggestions on supporter involvement and leveraged buyouts.

Why is there no response to this (from the Government response to the select committee)?

30. The Government notes the evidence before the Committee on the use of leveraged buyouts to purchase football clubs and the strong view of the Committee on the appropriateness of this vehicle. The Government expects that the issue of financial sustainability should be addressed as part of the recommendations on the new licensing model. 
and why is there nothing at all in the document on supporter involvement in clubs as suggested by the government here (my emphasis)?

38. The Government supports the Committee’s recommendation about effective consultation with fans. The Government believes that every club should have a dedicated and mandatory supporter liaison officer. Furthermore, that every club should officially recognise the relevant supporters groups or trusts and keep an open dialogue with them. They should hold official and regular annual general meetings at which these groups are invited to take part and at which appropriate financial and other information can be shared and consulted upon. 
39. The Government believes that these conditions should be an explicit condition of the football licensing model recommended by the Committee and so compliance should be a requirement of the club competing within the English game.
40. Furthermore, the Government urges the football authorities to consider ways to actively encourage and incentivise methods of including supporter representatives on the Boards of clubs. We see the value in the views of many supporters that such representatives should have a full role within the club Board. At the same time, we acknowledge that this may not be the right solution for all clubs or all supporters. Where there are ways of achieving this role in an advisory capacity that do not attract fiduciary responsibilities that could create conflicts of interest, then we urge the football authorities to also consider this route. Whatever the way that representation is achieved, we believe that there is every reason to think that clubs are stronger because they have supporters at the heart of the club, not weaker. 
41. One option that we have considered is to specify within the new club licensing system a trigger point that would require clubs to make a seat available to one or more supporters’ representatives on the Board. Such a trigger point could be the next time the club changes hands; the point at which the officially recognised supporters organisations reach a certain size; or by a majority vote of eligible supporters. There will be other options as well.
The whole document smacks of complacency and an unwillingness to change.

Hugh Robertson should scrawl "not good enough, try again" on it in big red letters and send it back to Wembley and Gloucester Place.