By Tony Attwood
All organisations need to have standards. Football clubs need to obey public safety standards and the special rules that apply specifically to football matches. They also have to obey the laws on finance and accounting, on employment contracts, as well as football rules such as that relating to not taking youngsters across state boundaries (something Real Madrid and Barcelona found difficult to comply with) and so on.
PGMO – the organisation that employs football referees for Premier League matches – also needs to have standards, but in this case, and unfortunately for all of us, none seem to be imposed.
Of course I am sure they abide by UK laws relating to employment, paying taxes, health and safety and so forth. But I have begun to wonder if this is enough. Surely as Premier League football is such a matter of national interest, should they not go further than this?
I started thinking along these lines when our occasional correspondent Goonermikey pointed out to me the disparity between the utter secrecy in the way PGMO operates and the way charities are required to operate.
Now of course PGMO is not a charity, but because it is a monopoly (a factor that itself raises issues) I think that there are good reasons for demanding a much higher standard of conduct, which is visible to public scrutiny, than we currently have.
This topic came up because Goonkermikey passed on to me some details of a report released this week by the House of Lords Select Committee for Charities, which itself has come about partly as a result of some of the bad press the charity sector has had lately.
And it got me thinking, if Charities are subject to standards, and monopolies are subject to regulation, how come PGMO has seemingly escaped all regulation and is allowed to just do its own thing as a monopoly?
This week’s report into charities contains 42 recommendations including one that is rather interesting, headed, “Transparency, accountability and impact”. I think we can honestly say that at this moment the PGMO rating would be
- Transparency 0
- Accountability 0
- Impact 100%
And it is interesting that the House of Lords (which is the upper house in the UK Parliament) has made these comments (which are direct quotes form the report):
“10. We believe that it is important for all but the very smallest charities to have a simple website or public social media page to provide that transparency. We recommend that public sector funders and other donors should evaluate the transparency of charities when considering requests for funding. “
“12. All charities should be seeking independent evaluation of their impact on their beneficiaries, in order to ensure that they are delivering for them and to demonstrate this to beneficiaries, funders and the public. The form of such evaluation may vary considerably, depending on the size of the charity and the type of work it is engaged in. “
As I say PGMO is not a charity as far as I know, it is a profit making organisation, but it seems to me there is every reason to feel that those two points laid down for charities should also apply to monopolies.
The report goes on to state that, “We endorse the suggestion in the Governance Code that charities should provide regular information to stakeholders that enables them to measure the charity’s success in achieving its purposes.”
It also says elsewhere in the report under the heading “Expectations and Trust” that “Trust cannot be taken for granted……..and charities need to be conscientious and scrupulous in order to retain that trust, maintaining their focus on transparency and accountability.”
Now that is an interesting point, because PGMO very much does take trust for granted, and by and large it is granted by newspapers, and 100% granted by broadcasters.
The fact is that the quite reasonable demands being made of the charity sector should also apply where there is a monopoly and a huge and legitimate interest in what the monopoly does, from the public at large.
There is also one further point: charities are regulated in part so that the good name of charities in general is not besmirched. The entire way in which PGMO operates – its secrecy, its deliberate refusal to take on enough referees so no one gets to ref a team more than twice in a season, its wild and whackey statistics which a five year old child could blow apart in two minutes – none of this gives confidence.
Generally I don’t like government regulation of things, but in this case I will make an exception. PGMO most certainly should be controlled by an outside body.
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