By Tony Attwood
The FA, as we all know, has financial problems. In October 2011 it was revealed (through a study of the FA’s accounts) that England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup (for which they got two votes, one of those being their own) cost £21m – £6m more than they had previously, misleadingly, let it be known they had spent.
That is £10,500,000 per vote. Or £21,000,000 that could have been spent on grass roots football.
Part of the scandal was that local authorities who could have and should have been spending money on building modern all-weather pitches for local teams, instead diverted £2.5m to help pay for lunches and entertainment for the most corrupt organisation sport has ever seen. It was criminal and criminal action should have been taken against those who spent the money.
Even days before the publication of the financial report, the sports minister of the day, Hugh Robertson, was still pumping the line that only £15m had been spent. It was a typical piece of misleading duplicity.
At the same time the FA accounts showed that their income was declining. So to make it clear, they were spending more, and their income was going down. And looking back we might wonder whether anyone in the FA knew what was going on, as the annual report claimed that the “FA had increased its reserves for the first time since 2006.”
Duplicity or stupidity? It is often hard to tell.
In fact the “reserves” that they claimed came from cutting investment in football by £5m and reducing payments to clubs for participating in the FA Cup.
The FA also made significant savings by cutting the amount it invests in the game by £5m, with grants to the Football Foundation cut by £3m compared to 2009. Other cuts included £3m from FA Cup television payments to clubs and prize money. The closure of the FA’s final salary pension scheme saved a further £2m. Cut, cut, cut, cut and then proclaim that the organisation is healthy.
After that it was downhill all the way, as Sport England pulled out of paying the FA after the FA failed to use the money it had given the FA for the intended purpose. The Sport England money was to be used to help develop grassroots football. It wasn’t; the FA said they had been hampered because the weather was too bad. As Untold pointed out, the money was to be used through the summer.
Then came the redundancies – but even these cost money – £10m – more money that could have been spent on grassroots football.
You’d have thought they might have learned by now, but instead there are reports in the Daily Mail that the FA are set to bail out Gianni Infantino after FIFA president’s rash election pledges.
What Infantino did when standing for election was to buy his position in Fifa by saying each Fifa territory would be given £3.45m to help develop sport. Now, having secured his position at the head of the most corrupt sporting body on the planet he has announced he won’t do this and has said it is only right that the rich European associations should bail Fifa out.
And insanely, instead of telling Fifa to get stuffed, the FA are at the front of the queue to bail him out, even though they are in dire financial straits themselves. What they should be doing is demanding Infantino to step down as he clearly had no intention of keeping his promises, but no… the FA still dreams of wasting millions of pounds more on another World Cup bid.
Worse, England, having reduced all overseas aid since 2010, are now the first country to back Infantino and help him out of his jam. And Greg Dyke amazingly said, “It’s not a massive amount of money in our terms.” Maybe he should say that face to face to all the people he has made redundant at the FA.
Worse again, and even more insanely, Dyke then said, ‘The problem for FIFA is if you’re going to give more money out, you have to make sure it is given out properly and used properly,” to which most sane people would say, “yes – that is the whole point. That is why people are in jail. That is why Fifa has fallen apart.” And, “what planet have you been on?”
The government is now proposing a governance code for sports bodies, and it is clear to a drunken layabout with a paper bag over his head sitting on a beach in Cornwall and wondering why his feet have started to get wet, that the FA is clearly non-compliant with all the new proposals. Helen Grant, the minister for sport and tourism, and Tracey Crouch, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport are both against giving the FA anything at all. Ms Crouch is a qualified football coach and she is the one who said she will not accept any lack of progress on reform of the FA. Helen Grant concurs.
In utter desperation to fill the increasingly awful financial hole caused by the failure to reform, the decision to bid for the corrupt World Cup, the misuse of Sport England funds, and the cost of redundancy settlements, the FA are now trying to sell their much derided Club Wembley tickets on a game by game basis. (These are the seats in the middle of Wembley which we often see empty at matches while supporters of the clubs involved in the match find it impossible to get tickets.)
Sadly, only the Daily Mail and Guardian (two utterly opposed newspapers in political terms) ever seem to want to expose the FA, so the FA continue to drift along wasting money and making a mess of things. However if the government does actually remove the £35m grant, that could actually hasten the collapse of the outmoded and useless entity.
One can only hope. But will any of this money find its way into grassroots football? That’s uncertain in the extreme, but the first thing is to get the money and finally crucify the FA.