By Tony Attwood
One of my eternal rants, with which I have bored you stiff in recent years, is that the FA is guilty of a multiplicity of misdemeanours, ranging from ineptitude to the failure properly to investigate corruption, from the refusal to accept the proven fact that England do badly because of lack of local coaches, to the misappropriation of finances, from backing the wholly corrupt Fifa organisation to being unfit, (through its organisational structure), to run a booze up in a brewery,
No one has taken much notice, and it has been with relief that I can note that some of the other crusades of Untold (such as that in favour of video refereeing, and suggesting there is a problem with PL refereeing) are now becoming more mainstream in terms of their coverage.
But now it seemed for a moment that maybe, just maybe, things might be about to change. Because according to the Sunday Telegraph, MPs are about to demand the Football Association sets up an enquiry into football’s incompetence – particularly with regards to the awful FA.
The problem with the idea however is that such an enquiry would come under the remit of the Culture, Media & Sport select committee, whose minister has repeatedly across the years threatened to take tax payers money away from the FA if it fails to reform, and then done absolutely bugger all (to use the appropriate technical term) about the issue.
And so again we find that The Telegraph is not suggesting that the Government investigates the FA’s misappropriation of funds (as when Sport England was forced to remove funding from the FA because it had not spent it on 3G pitches) but rather the FA itself is to investigate bungs and other malpractices involving transfers and the like.
And at once we see the problem. The grossly inept and appalling FA, which readily pours tax payers’ money into such insane ideas as rebuilding Wembley without having funding, and pouring money into Fifa and bids for the world cup, is to be asked to investigate what is going on under its very eyes.
It is a bit like asking the Mafia to investigate money laundering.
Now to be fair the MP is suggesting that the enquiry be “led by someone who is not part of the FA or Premier League and who will publish their report in full, along with their recommendations for reform.” But that is what they always say. The FA recently said that it was “powerless” to police bungs, and then said it would overhaul its disciplinary process – something it has been threatening to do for years.
Mr Collins also said: “What we really want to discuss with them is the broader issues that the Telegraph investigation throws up for football, which are substantial, and may even sadly go back to some quite traditional topics.
“Which is how they police the game, what sort of resource they put behind investigations, what sort of checking they do on financial conflicts of interests, conflicts of interests between players, clubs and agents. The fact that these issues keep on coming up suggests there are ongoing problems with football and money that have never been addressed and football authorities don’t seem to have the power and the inclination to do anything about it.”
So there is just a hint that he might see the FA as the problem, and yet the FA is still going to be central to the enquiry.
Thus we have the same old same old problem. The FA has proven itself to be grossly incompetent at every level, and yet still, the MPs are asking the FA to be part of the investigation of issues that come under its jurisdiction.
Let me give just one example of the FA’s appalling behaviour in modern times.
In 2002, the Charity Commission (the UK’s organisation that oversees the work of charities and makes sure that they abide by the law and don’t take money for a good cause and then use it for something else) found that the Football Association was not acting properly when it came to the most fundamental level of operating the “Charity Shield”.
The whole point of the Charity Shield was that the game between the FA Cup winners and the League winner should be used to raise money for charities. The FA had been running the competition annually since 1908, so they have had quite a lot of time to come to terms with legislation, and get it right.
And yet despite this longevity it was found guilty in 2002 of failing to meet its most basic legal obligations under charity law, by failing to specify what money from ticket sales went to charity, and delaying payments to the charities nominated.
If any other organisation had been found guilty of such crimes it would have been hounded out of existence, but for some reason the FA has led a charmed life and its appalling and gross misbehaviour to the charities it was said to be helping, was swept aside as a “detail”, and without the media taking up the issue at all the competition was rebranded the Communities Shield. Which meant that the FA could do anything it wished with the money.
And still, despite this long and disgraceful history, the FA is now being invited by a senior MP to investigate corruption.
Words, for once, fail me.
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