Tuesday 8 February 2011

Select Committee should publish FA reform memo which the Premiership suppressed

The Commons Culture and Sport Select Committee today begins hearings in what could be a significant inquiry into football governance, as the Coalition government has already indicated it would be sympathetic to pursuing recommendations which would strengthen the voice and stake of fans in football ownership.

It is good that former FA insiders David Triesman and Graham Kelly are among the opening witnesses, as it indicates an awareness that the success of ownership models like supporters trusts will depend on opening up a wider range of questions about the goals of football governance, and how well current structures serve them.

Sports Minister Hugh Robertson did not pull his punches in telling Parliament that "football is the worst governed sport in this country, without a shadow of a doubt."

So what should change?

One specific thing which the Select Committee could do to open up debate from the start would be to ask for - and then publish after today's hearing - the detailed 26 page memo which Triesman wanted to send as the Football Association's evidence to then culture Secretary Andy Burnham's questions about the future of the game in 2009.

This was vetoed by Premier League representatives. And so the supreme governing body of English football instead made no submission of its own, instead simply summarising the views of the Premiership, the Football League and others.

Guardian reporter David Conn wrote about some of the key recommendations of the suppressed submission before Christmas, but it would be useful to put it into the public domain

The episode encapsulates a foundational question for any attempt to reform the game's governance.

The Premiership breakaway was only possible because the Football Association sanctioned the move of the top clubs away from the Football League.

But has it effectively led to "regulatory capture"?

There are legitimately different views about a range of issues in football - balancing the interests of club and country, the amateur and professional game at various levels, the distribution of resources, and the interests of players, fans, broadcasters and sponsors. One would expect the major clubs to have a view about all of these issues, which each affect their interests. But it would be a fundamental failure of governance were the FA as regulator to be effectively unable to consider those issues, except from the view of the big clubs, if the power relationships within it create an effective Premiership veto.

The Committee hearings will have to find out whether that fear is justified or overstated.

Also giving evidence will be Graham Kelly, who was FA Chief Executive at the time of the Premiership breakaway, though he is still perhaps primarily remembered by supporters for his monotone delivery of the FA Cup draw in its Monday lunchtime radio days.

1 comment:

Dave said...

That document here: