Spanish football nder government supervision: England next


By Tony Attwood

I haven’t yet seen this story in the English media, quite possibly because they can’t imagine what would happen if the Premier League, Football League or PGMOL – the referees association – were put under government supervision.   But it is something to ponder.

I mean just what tale would PGMO spin to try and explain its utter secrecy, the variance the results of its referees, its sudden mass increase in yellow cards shown (over 25% higher this season than last).

And yet they might have to as we are in a situation where the English authorities are struggling in an attempt to set up the Football Governance Bill   That Bill sets up a new independent body to manage, discipline and control the Premier League, English Football LeLeague and the National League.

Now the Spanish have been more direct, and it is possible that other governments will follow because the existing Spanish authority (RFEF) has now been put under direct government supervision pending a full investigation into corruption in Spanish football, not to mention the infamous incident of “the kiss” (Luis Rubiales if you want to look it up) which I won’t bother you with but you might well remember from earlier weeks.  The popular press were very engaged with it.

The technical wording is translated as “a supervision, standardization and representation commission created by the CSD” and led by “independent personalities” will exercise “supervision of the RFEF during the coming months”, in “the interest of Spain.”

Spain is due to hold an election for the President of the football federation, and the only candidate is Pedro Rocha.   Unfortunately, the Administrative Court for Sport said that he had committed very serious errors and made decisions beyond his level of competence.

So a bit of a cock up all round.  Not the sort of thing that could happen in England.   Except that a report in Politics Home says “The Government has been warned the Football Governance Bill could risk England’s participation in the World Cup and the country’s elite clubs from taking part in the Champions League.”

The argument here is one of making sure the regulator is not subject to government control, which is against Fifa rules.   But in laying that rule down, totally non-elected and endlessly corrupt Fifa is placing itself above elected governments, which, as I assiduously go and vote every time I am called upon to do so but can’t vote for who runs football, seems wrong.

Now Politics Home is a serious and sensible publication, but I think they could do with a new football correspondent, in that they say that the government body could “jeopardise the national team’s right to play in the World Cup,”  and for elite clubs to  be stopped “from competing in the Champions League, Europa League or Europa Conference League.”

Now their argument is a bit skewed by the assistance within the piece of calling Chelsea an elite team,  and a club that needs protection, but I am sure you can see the drift.

Certainly, in my estimation if Chelsea wants to fund clubs around Europe through a series of wild forays into the transfer market, all well and good.   But Fifa (mindful perhaps that some of its historic corruption cases will be uncovered) have already said that the proposed body overseeing football would be against its constitution of unbridled corruption and incompetence (well no that’s not actually in the constitution but that is the effect of it).

But we should remember that Uefa and Fifa told the Greek Government in 2015 that they would be kicked out of international competitions if they proceeded with their laws aimed at reducing violence in the Greek leagues.

The UK Government has appointed Martyn Henderson OBE as its Chief Interim Operating Officer for the new body and we are told that the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport will be able to direct the COO as to what needs looking into.

But there is deeper involvement of the government on the horizon for the regulator will have to take heed of government departments handling trade and foreign affairs.  Football supporters will have to be consulted, competitions will be licensed and owners will be stopped (I am not sure how) from taking their club down a route that can lead to financial disaster.

There is however a reduction in the power of the clubs as they will no longer have the right to leave competitions or set up new competitions that they want to play in without the government’s sayso.   As things stand no one knows if this will include the government licensing the increasingly popular mini tournaments played in the summer, with the USA have a growing interest in these.

Major clubs such as Arsenal see these trips as being increasingly important to their income levels, and any attempt to restrict these is likely to be strongly opposed by the clubs.


One Reply to “Spanish football nder government supervision: England next”

  1. I haven’t read the story ( it’s behind a paywall, – here ). It seems to be saying that MPs (Starmer, Gove and Braverman) may have been receiving “gifts” from the Premier League with values of £5k or more. These gifts may have consisted of tickets and/or hospitality for BRIT awards, cricket matches or cup finals. The article goes on to say that these payments may be in anticipation of the future appointment of a regulator.

    I would hope that MPs and the Premier League have to complete some sort of FP24 compliance training regarding solicitation and acceptance of gifts. I had to complete this training for my employer every year (I think the maximum allowable gift was to the value of $50, and this had to be declared to my employer).

    I find it concerning that this story is not receiving any other media attention.

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