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Government threatens to remove FA funding. Again. Will they at last keep their word?

By Tony Attwood

When you ain’t got nothing to say, but everyone is saying lots of stuff, then just say what your predecessor or your boss said last time and hope no one notices.

Thus goes the thinking of Sports Minister Tracey Crouch.  In May 2016 the FA was warned that if it didn’t reform itself it would lose government funding.    That was from the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale.  Which was the re-run of a speech made by Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe in September 2009 which demanded the FA act on recommendations made in a 2005 review of the organisation by Lord Burns.    Which in turn was a rerun of the speech in November 2007 by  the culture secretary, James Purnell, calling on the FA to reform or risk losing state funding.

Which was….

OK you probably get the idea.  By and large sports and culture ministers in the UK are people without too much grasp of how sport and culture might be enhanced.  The probably think that both sport and culture are “good things” and they might even once have seen a Shakespeare play and turned on the TV to watch a cup final.  But beyond that, well…  (although to be fair to Tracey, although she is of the repetitive mode, she does know about football).

So when the word is out that in return for the ministerial salary of around £100,000 a year (about a fiftieth of the salary of your average Premier League player) the Rt Hon person ought to say something, the Rt Hon does the obvious thing, and re-runs the last speech – probably not quite aware that this was a re-run of the speech before which was a…….

Anyway, Untold runs it every time, not because we like making government ministers look like idiots (they do a jolly good job of that without our help) but because the message they run over and over and over and over and over again is right.  The FA should lose all its government funding.  Now.  And it should be made to pay back all the money it has had for the last 50 years on the grounds of taking money under false pretences.

The only thing the people on the eternal jolly in Parliament don’t get right is the fact that they never do it.  So here it is again, this time from Tracey Crouch, Her Majesty’s minister for Sport.

“I’m not shy to say to the FA ‘if you don’t reform your governance structures, I will give that money to other bodies that deliver football’.”   She was a bit vague on how much of our money she dishes out to the FA but thought it was around “£30m to £40m of public funding”.

She needed to speak because former FA chairman David Bernstein recently decided to copy Untold by saying what we said eight years ago (when we started) that the FA was outdated and needed reform.

“We have a massive problem in this country at the centre of English football. I’m talking about an outmoded structure which is not modern enough and not independent enough,” he said.

To which the minister, grateful not to have to remember any more lines said, “I share David’s frustration. That’s why we’ve made it clear that all sports governing bodies have to reform their governance codes.  The FA is not excluded from that, and if they don’t, they won’t get public funding. It’s as simple as that.   If there’s no move whatsoever, and at the moment we are seeing nothing from the FA in terms of progress, they are likely to lose some public money or it will go elsewhere in the delivery of football.”

If only it were true. Sport England withdrew its funding from the FA.  Why not the government?

She went on, “That can include county FAs if they have reformed governance structures at county level; I will take it away from the centre and give it to the counties – at the end of the day, public money goes to growing football.

“I think it is really important that public money goes into the grass roots of the game; I want to see continued investment in football but it has to be done in line with proper reforms at the top.

“New public-funding rounds begin in 2017 so I want to see progress happen very quickly – I appreciate reforming an entire structure is not going to happen overnight but if the direction of travel is in the right place then they may well continue to get their funding.

“If there’s no move whatsoever, and at the moment we are seeing nothing from the FA in terms of progress, they are likely to lose some public money or it will go elsewhere in the delivery of football.”

But as the BBC reminded us, “A report from the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee in 2013 called for reforms in English football – and outlined concerns including financial management as well as the balance of power between the Premier League and the FA.”

The FA declined to comment, although a spokesman did ask if anyone knew where the FA actually held it meetings as he was due to be there but had got lost because all the streets in London look the same.

I did a piece on the FA back in February  in which I pointed out that  the FA has 21 Life and Senior Vice Presidents drawn from such bodies as Cambridge University FA,  Leicestershire & Rutland FA, the Independent Schools FA…

Then six vice presidents, eight representatives of the Premier League, eight representatives of the Football League, ten divisional representatives, 43 county association representatives, eight representatives of affiliated organisations, nine representatives of other football associations (such as the University of Oxford Football Association, and several organisations that have already got special representation in earlier mentioned sections), one supporters representative, one disability representative, two inclusion representatives, a chief executive officer and two independent non-executive directors.

Above all, the FA has always backed Fifa.  It backed Blatter.  It backs Uefa.  It backed Platini.  Now it backs Infantino.  Stout fellows all.

The FA has criticised the head of the UK Anti-Doping agency for even suggesting football may have a performance enhancing drugs problem.  They criticised Arsène Wenger, who for a long time has advocated tackling doping in football.  Now they are supporting the fact that Uefa has rejected the Word Anti-Doping Agency’s work.

The Football Association has had to pay out £10m for the redundancy programme and made a loss in its last accounts.  Meanwhile in England the coaches figure is incredibly low, compared to most other countries.  Since then we’ve shown that this is because the FA charges so much for its coaching courses – many many times more than is charged in other countries.  They do it because… they are short of money, because they wasted most of it getting two votes in the bid to win the rights to stage the World Cup.

Maybe if they just wound themselves up, and got out of the business of football once and for all, we’d all be that bit better off.  Or maybe if the Sports Minister stopped quoting what has been said for the last goodness knows how many years and stopped funding the FA, we might get progress.

Recent Posts

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  • The Arsenal Yankee by Danny Karbassiyoon with a foreword by Arsene Wenger.
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You can find details of all five on our new Arsenal Books page

 

13 comments to Government threatens to remove FA funding. Again. Will they at last keep their word?

  • colario

    May be she wanted to say something original but Sir Humphrey warned her against being original.

    She being a good obedient minister said what Sir Humphrey advised her to say.

  • colario

    When I saw the BBC link to her statement, I shared the link in a comment on the previous piece.

    I then did something that I wouldn’t normally do. I went checking the English newspapers for something on this but I didn’t find anything.

    Seen as something that has been said many times before and has had the response of a dead duck reminds me of the famous quote of Dr Spock the well known specialist on baby welfare.

    ”After six to eight weeks baby begins to gurgle and make funny noises.”

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    The England Sports Ministry through their Minister of Sports, Tracey Crouch is proposing to withhold government statutory allocation of funds due to the the English FA on the ground of: misapplying the public money given to them to manage it judiciously, negligence of commitment to grassroots football in England and their lack of will to see the FA reformed to enhance accountability among other charges.

    However, if the Minister does that, would the FA sit back to watch themselves being battered by Tracery Crouch or the FA will fight her back through court litigation as a last result if they fail to succeed at lobbying the MPs in the House of Commons to overrule Tracey Crouch’s action to impose a government money allocation ban on them without 1st get a Parliament approval to do so?.

    Not that I am backing the FA for their misdoings. But haven recently heard of the unbanning of some Russian athletes by the IOC to compete at the summer Olympics in Rio on individual participation, and then ban the Russian whistleblower lady who had exposed the mass Russian State sponsor of dropping that is rampant among the Russian athletes, I can’t see anything tangible action coming out of Tracey Crouch’s threat to deny the FA of their statutory government allocation of funds as this threat could be swept under the carpet to be lying there till another time as consequent of bending the rules once again.

  • Samuel Akinsola Adebosin

    The England Sports Ministry through their Minister of Sports, Tracey Crouch is proposing to withhold government statutory allocation of funds due to the the English FA on the ground of: misapplying the public money given to them to manage it judiciously, negligence of commitment to grassroots football in England and their lack of will to see the FA reformed to enhance accountability among other charges.

    However, if the Minister does that, would the FA sit back to watch themselves being battered by Tracey Crouch or the FA will fight her back through court litigation as a last result if they fail to succeed at lobbying the MPs in the House of Commons to overrule Tracey Crouch’s action to impose a government money allocation ban on them without 1st get a Parliamentary approval to do so?.

    Not that I am backing the FA for their misdoings. But haven recently heard of the unbanning of some Russian athletes by the IOC to compete at the summer Olympics in Rio on individual participation, and then ban the Russian whistleblower lady who had exposed the mass Russian State sponsor of dropping that is rampant among the Russian athletes, I can’t see any tangible action coming out of Tracey Crouch’s threat to deny the FA of their statutory government allocation of funds as this threat could be swept under the carpet to be lying there till another time as a consequent of bending the rules once again.

  • nicky

    I thought I’d heard it all when, some years ago, I read of the obscene waste of money funding England’s failed attempt to host a World Cup.
    Now we have HMG giving money to the FA, another waste.
    The sooner that is diverted to the counties the better.

  • Menace

    The FA & all its cronies are like the BHS green bod. Greedy, incompetent & corrupt. I bet none of the FA big wigs have not drawn salaries & expenses.

  • omgarsenal

    I’d love to know for sure what each VP, committee member and overall staff costs are, as well as operating expenses other than compensation. The sweet FA sounds like the golden goose, laying its pearls at the feet of swine. What a bloated, top heavy caricature of reality those muppets seem to be!

  • Menace

    omgarsenal – and we were looking at the FIFA & UEFA for greedy boys. What is surprising is that there are very few women involved in these nod nod wink wink setups.

  • Ryan F

    Excellent article, cheers. The problem with a weak FA means more and more power is shifting towards the Premier League, who are now the de facto ruling body of English football, but sadly they only represent the richest 20 clubs.

    Yet again, it’s the smaller clubs who are being screwed.

  • Jammy J

    @ Menace – It’s not all that odd. The only bank in Iceland to not go under – due to all of these dodgy deals and practices coming out of America – was one ran by women. It would seem that they are much less prone to getting drawn into all of these underhanded practices.

  • Menace

    Totally agree Jammy J. Looking forward to a world led by strong women. It will give Amazon a reality check.

  • David M

    @nicky
    Same thing happened in Australia. Millions wasted on the failed world cup bid, but of course Australian and English bids were clean (hmmmm…)

    Thanks for the insight Tony

  • Norman14

    Well, the FA has still managed to find a couple of million to pay off Sunderland for Allerdyce.

    That appointment alone should be enough for public funding to be removed with immediate effect.

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