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FA must reform or face “focused intervention” from Parliament

This is a story from the FSF archive – the FSF and SD merged to become the FSA in 2019.

Five former FA executives have written to the Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Damian Collins MP, urging reform – by Parliamentary legislation if necessary – of the organisation’s Committee and Board structures, citing its “inability to reform and modernise in a fast-changing world.” (See FSF response.)

“The reality is that the Professional Game stakeholders from the English Football League to the players, managers and referees are dominated by the English Premier League (EPL) due to their financial might and the way financial contributions are wielded at every turn to assert beneficial positions for the EPL,” says the letter co-signed by ex-FA executives David Bernstein, David Davies, Greg Dyke, Alex Horne and David Triesman.

It continues: “The EFL’s strategy unduly influences the Championship Clubs eager to access EPL financial advantages. This affects the League 1 and 2 clubs adversely, which in turn knocks on to the National League and right through the football pyramid.” 

Damian Collins MP said he shared concerns in relation to the FA’s current structure which “makes it impossible for it to reform itself. As such, there is currently no effective governing body for football in England that is capable of responding to the challenges that face the modern game.”

More than three years ago the Culture, Media and Sport Committee called on the Government to legislate if significant progress in reforming the FA was not forthcoming. That change never occurred and the Parliamentary Committee will now draft a bill to try and make change a reality.

The Committee would almost certainly need Government backing to pass legislation and Collins says he will write to Sports Minister Tracey Crouch for support as the FA “is powerless to change. It can only be achieved through legislation.”

Malcolm Clarke, chair of the FSF said: “The Football Supporters’ Federation and our member groups have been calling for FA reform for many years, and we’re pleased ex-FA chairmen and executives have finally come around to our way of thinking.

“A more independent FA Board is required to safeguard the game’s future, and we believe supporters have a huge role to play in that.

“Fans are free from vested financial interests, and have nothing but the game’s health at heart – but supporters are not represented at the game’s highest levels and that must change.

“The FA Council should also be more diverse but it is not the ‘blazers’ who resist more money to the grassroots or the FA taking back power to regulate the whole game.

“After all, the ‘blazers’ mostly come from the grassroots game and are as opposed to the concentration of wealth and power at the top of the game as supporters are.

“The FA is also meant to be the game’s governing body yet the Premier League and the EFL have a veto over major decisions. How can it be right that those being regulated can block the regulator’s proposals?

“It may therefore be the case that legislation is required to pave the way for reform of the FA’s power structures and we look forward to seeing the detail of Damian Collins’ proposed bill.”

Thanks tenspeedphotography for the image in this story used under CC license.

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