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October 2016
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Why are football’s administrators so utterly and totally inept?

By Tony Attwood

In May 2014 a new competition for B teams of some Premier League and Championship clubs was put forward by the Football Association.  The reason for it was (via some mechanism that was never explained) to boost the number of young English players in the league.

The idea was that the new league would sit between League Two and the Conference in the pyramid.   It would include the 24 clubs with high ranking academies and even before the FA’s leader of the time, Greg Dyke, had finished talking about it, there was uproar and it was clear that it was not going to happen.

So as that idea died, a new idea was born.  To expand what has been known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy which is currently for League One and Two sides, and allow Premier League under 21 teams to participate.

Within days of that idea coming out that has been faced with multiple rejections, including that of Arsenal.

So what is it with these ideas that they keep coming forwards and then failing within a matter of days as the clubs say no?

The reason is that either before they are announced no one bothers to check to see if the club’s would agree to the change, or everyone knows the clubs will not agree to the change, but they are put forward for completely different reasons.  I think the latter is the case, as I will try to explain.

I believe this because it would, in fact, with each idea of reform, have taken a matter of half an hour to make the phone calls to know that the two expansion plans would be rejected.  There is no way that Conference and League Two clubs, for example, would be happy to have an extra league to play through to try and get promotion.

Nor would the top Premier League clubs, who protect and nurture their young stars want them to be playing against players from League Two sides one or two of whom might not be averse to stopping a player with an appalling career ending tackle.   Of course I am not saying that lower league players are thugs, and I do on occasion go to see lower league teams in the stadia near where I live, and very much enjoy the games.  But we have seen these awful tackles in the Premier League against Arsenal players from players of modest talent (Shawcross and Dan Smith of Sunderland come to mind).  It is horrific enough when it happens in the PL but when a young player’s career is killed by a thug in such a way, it is even worse.

So the objections were on the table before the idea was put forward.  Which raises the question again, why were the ideas put forwards at all, if each was going to become a humiliation for those proposing the plans?

The issue is made more odd because when Greg Dyke put forward the fifth division idea not only had it been cleared with the clubs, it was only vaguely thought through – most of the details were missing at the time of the first presentation.

Now with the proposed expansion of the  old Johnstone’s Paint Trophy (although as I understand it the old sponsor has now departed leaving it with the name “Trophy”) so that Premier League academies could join in, again we have the same situation.  No one seems to have asked the Premier League clubs and so after the announcement they are dropping out.

And even without the paint dry on that one (as it were), there is the resurrection going on of an Under-21s “Premier League II”, outside the Premier League, again floated without any thought as to checking with possible participants first.

In this scenario, Under-21s games played immediately after senior Premier League fixtures in the same stadiums.  And there would be a higher number of senior players allowed (at the moment it is just three).  The theory is that clubs like Chelsea would stop sending 30 plus young players out on loan each year then never bringing them back to play in the Premier League.  Again it seems a very vague idea, and in keeping with the oddball approaches of the other ideas.  Another floating notion launched without checking.

And it is up against a plan from within the Premier League itself: a European competition for their under 19s or under 21 which has more games involved than the current Under-19 Uefa Youth League which is linked to the Champions League.

The point is that there are ideas being discussed – but having ideas discussed is different from having full blown press conferences and statements in the press from the FA about changing the structure of organisations over which it has no control.

The Premier League has the power – not the FA – because in effect it funds the Football League via its solidarity payments.  If those were removed the Football League would be in a terrible financial mess.  And it was because the PL gives money, and so has power, it was able to introduce the Elite Player Performance Plan in 2011, which removed the geographic restrictions on PL club recruitment of youngsters, and fixed the fees that PL pay for academy players.

But the lower league clubs and their supporters know that they are easy targets.  Many are losing money – but because of the way the League has restructured itself, the number of clubs going into administration has declined dramatically.   Which means that as long as the League clubs accept the Premier League’s money, and work to enforce Financial Fair Play rules, there is a balance in the system and no one wants to mess with it.

Also, although without much fanfare, the Premier League has its own new Financial Fair Play rules and the new version of these comes into affect this coming season.  I will deal with these in a separate article shortly (since most other sites don’t seem to want to know about them).

But back with the ideas of change.   There was some interest in the notion of changing the size of the leagues, but absolutely none in terms of Premier League B Teams being involved, when that idea came about.  So it was withdrawn – because the key reason for putting it forward came from the FA that said it would get the PL clubs to hire more English players and so help the English national team.


And that is the notion behind the new proposal for invited clubs to put under 21 sides into the cup competition for League One and Two clubs.   More English players playing for Premier League clubs.

That whole theoretical notion is crazy, as Untold has pointed out many times, because it is not the number of players playing in your own league that affects the well being of the country.   If it were the Netherlands would not consistently rise up to the higher points of international competition.   Indeed such a theory can’t explain Wales’ success either.  Nor Iceland.

Anyway, Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur have said no thanks to the new idea, and Man U and Liverpool are thought to be doubtful.

But the FA is not daunted.  It’s idea is now to invite Championship clubs with category one academies to make up the numbers alongside Southampton, Everton, Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion which have initially said they will take part.

So back to the key question: why do the FA keep coming up with ideas to reform bits of football that are not theirs to reform?

The answer is because they are powerless, inept, and pointless.  The structure of the FA as we have discussed before, needs reform, but it won’t vote to reform itself.  The FA Cup jogs along quite happily, but that is about all they have.  The England national team fails on every occasion it gets into a competition finals, and the FA has one excuse – football immigration.

The organisation is near financial ruin, (remember how Sport England withdrew its funding), and it is now propped up by government gifts year after year.  And in short each and every one of these ideas is a smoke screen to cover its bankruptcy and ineptitude.

Remember also all the talk about new pitches for youngsters to play on, new grassroots centres being built.  None of them have been built under FA guidance, because the FA has no money and never had the money to do it.  It just puts forwards plans, and either sees them knocked down, and quite welcomes that because it has no money to implement them.  It is a charade and a facade with nothing behind it.

It’s one objective now is to say, “It’s not our fault.”

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21 comments to Why are football’s administrators so utterly and totally inept?

  • finsbury

    If Harry Kane was the answer then what was Gregg Dyke’s question?

    If the FA has no power in Football, then who has it? What is IFAB?
    Why do none of the twenty four seven sports broadcasters ever refer to the super agents who have more power and influence then 95% of the clubs in the sport?
    Why do these same broadcasters constantly critique those who don’t do buisiness with certain agents? Whilst never mentioning said agents? Why does the uk media in particular laud the specialist in signing players from special agents (he turned down the leading striker at the euros in order to sign some Mule or other… Gazprom are still paying the price!). Do these hacks ahave a religious conviction that makes them propagate what can be observed to be a sociopathic ideology of debt peonage? Or are they simply responding to their employers’ directives? Or both?

  • porter

    I still think that a competition that enables 18/19 year olds to step up and play against and with adults can only be good for their development. The Premier reserve league was meant to be this vehicle but because it cost money and there was little monetary reward many clubs chose not to support it and preferred to use the transfer market and buy ready made players from wherever.
    Despite all the reservations about International football, overplaying,fitting in fixtures ,opportunity for injury etc. It does have a unifying effect on the country as seen by Wales’ recent efforts. Somehow our football has to find a way of producing a larger crop of players available for the home countries and any competition that allows growth of our youngsters has to be encouraged. However as proven by our recent referendum result and it’s aftermath , those whose sole interest is in the making of money have more interest in their bottom line today than planning for any future.

  • Philip Lyons

    I certainly agree that the FA is incompetent, inept and totally pointless, why on earth is it managed by Dyke who has failed in every job he has had and has no knowledge or experience of football. It is the question of finance I do not understand. I thought, perhaps incorrectly, that the FA receives a share of the billions EUFA and FIFA make from the competitions they run plus the substantial income from England games and from renting out Wembley Stadium.

    Is it they just waste it all on their own inflated salaries and jaunts.

  • porter

    Seems like Hayden is joining Toral on the way out of the door . One English one Spanish with nowhere to go in the English system . There has to be a better way.

  • Philip, the FA do get an income from competitions, but they built up massive debts from applying to host the World Cup (the one where they got two votes, one of which was themselves voting for themselves), and mostly from rebuilding Wembley Stadium. Wembley stands empty most of the year, and has restrictions on the number of big events they can hold there, although Tottenham playing there with reduced crowds, and perhaps Chelsea after that, will help. Also the FA’s expenditure on its day to day running is very top heavy, hence the making of one third of their staff redundant last year, so they are still dependent on government hand-outs.

  • norman14

    I can see why the FA want to encourage the development of young players, but the issue is creating a program for accommodating that. One way would be to have a separate “regional” academy league structure, that is FA based, not club based. Clubs then nominate their youngsters into a regional FA squad that competes with other regional FA teams on a league basis. Expanding our already overcrowded season is not sustainable. It’s bad enough to have senior players coming back from their national competition either crocked, knackered or both. Imposing additional league competition on younger players will severely restrict them from “covering” their club international counterparts, and therefore, will actually hamper their progress.

    If, say, their were 9 regional FA squads competing in a league competition, that would be 16 games a season – which could be operated over a 4 monthly – or 4 months period, so that club academies also had sufficient access to their junior players for inclusion in such squads as the League Cup, for example.

    As for senior football, I think that the FA should be looking at the bigger picture by reducing the number of games a club plays in any one season – not increasing the workload.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    A right back/left back – Gjbiril Sidibi has been reported to have turned down himself to join Arsenal but instead opted to join Monaco. And a report in the media has said that Arsenal are considering the possibilities of signing the CB – Lucas Hernandez from Ateletico Madrid.

    What have all these rumours in the media linking Arsenal with the signing of a defender told us? They are telling us that Arsenal will after all sign not only a marquee striker this summer but will as well sign a CB and possibly a left back too. Thus, the confirmation that Takuma Asano is not for the immediate senior team squad signing.

    Save for any hidden bad fortune that is unknown to us, I pray, no new player Arsenal will next put a bidding for will not snub us. But if the snubbing would amount to a bullet missing to hit Arsenal, then the snubbing should better be.

  • Leon

    Arsenal’s administrators are doing a decent enough job though. They’ve banned a supporter (unnamed) for online abuse (undisclosed ) on a twitter account. Kick It Out have applauded us for our stand against this type of trolling.
    I noticed some anti semitic extreme right wing religious fundamentalist invective on this blog recently during the aftermath of Brexit, which went completely unchecked and the guy is still posting comments.
    Where Arsenal lead…………….

  • Leon

    Toral is only going out on loan (to Granada), but as you say Hayden looks as though he’s leaving.

  • finsbury

    The FA locked themselves into debt peonage with the Wembley bungle.
    Is that their vision for the rest of Football?

    Here it is: headline from the Manchester Grunt:
    “Guardiola arrival heralds new age of big spending”

    New age? What were the Grunters doing when Man IOU signed a crocked Falcao on loan for a season for £20M? Hiding in caves and grunting to each other? Were they too busy sniping at AW for “dithering” whilst not so subtley ignoring AFC’s attitude towards bungs and agents with pre-dates AW, famously including GG, and goes all the way back to 1930’2/20’s – yet they bang that mantra so hard that many gullible ones simply end up repeating their mantra which bears no relation to the history and present policies of Arsenal Football Club: the power of suggestion via reptition eh?

  • finsbury

    As for the football:

    Hayden had fantastic performance for a rookie opposite Pelle and Mane alongside Chambers at CB a year and a half ago. At least I was impressed then again I do know very little.

    He’s had some poor luck with one or two injuries robbing him of opportunities to cover the first team at the Arsenal.

    Good young player. Needs to play. If being a loanee curtails his chances (managers like Bruce need to manage their squads and have to also will be tempted to rely on experienced defenders to gain promotion) then so be it. Hopefully there’ll be a smart buy back clause.

  • omgarsenal

    Leon……¨I noticed some anti semitic extreme right wing religious fundamentalist invective on this blog recently during the aftermath of Brexit, which went completely unchecked and the guy is still posting comments.¨

    IF that is the case,report it to Tony and Walter….they will verify this and deal with it promptly. UA has no place for that type of rubbish!

  • Leon

    You’re right.
    I should have made more of an issue of it (than I did) at the time of the article, but enough people took it up with him (I assume it’s a guy) on the thread for it not to have been missed by Tony or Walter. In my opinion they don’t really care unless it’s a personal attack on them or the blog.

  • Gord


    Neymar is not a crook (Spanish prosecutor has dropped case).

    Sahko is not a druggie (UEFA has dropped case).

    It’s likely both are likely corrupt, but prosecution may lack evidence. It is possible that UEFA itself being corrupt, is deciding to allow Sahko’s corruptness to be okay.

  • Gunnerjoe

    what I noticed is your point about Arsenal dealing with a fan for he’s comments that Kick it out thought needed action has got 8 thumbs down.
    Now I am wondering are the aaa willing to support anyone against who Arsenal have taken appreciate action or is untold getting a large number of racists or anti-semitics visiting to support their fellow travelers.
    I must admit I was surprised that the number of posts that where clearly anti-semitic allowed on this site.
    I did take issue with these posts at the time.

  • Leon


    I think I’ve probably attracted the attention of the person to who’m I’m referring.
    Glad you remember the posts. Bad weren’t they?

  • Gunnerjoe

    I feel so

  • Leon


    And Rosicky@Arsenal (there, I’ve outed him/her) didn’t even get a yellow card.

  • Menace

    I’m not sure what you girls are up to but please report nasties to the admin. Then get back to things Arsenal. Thanks.

  • Gunnerjoe

    Even us girls can see it’s an Arsenal issue

  • Leon

    “please report nasties to admin”

    …..and you say that without the slightest hint of irony