Hello Football Regulator. Now, here’s the first problem.,



By Tony Attwood

Labour’s election manifesto committed to making Britain the best place in the world to be a football fan AND promised there would be an independent football regulator.

As a result, it is expected that the Football Governance Bill which was lost when the election was called, will now be reintroduced although perhaps in a modified form.

We know that Lisa Nandy MP is the new minister for Culture Media and Sport (although the government website stating this, at the moment of writing – 6 July – insists on calling her “they”.)

Lisa Eva Nandy is obviously a member of the Labour Party and she served as Shadow Cabinet Minister for International Development in 2023. She also served as Shadow Foreign Secretary, Shadow Levelling Up Secretary and Shadow Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change as well as Shadow Minister (Education).

A varied range of work, but not much to do with football, or come to that culture, media or sport.

But she was on the Education Committee from 12 July 2010 – 10 September 2012, and that might help a little as certainly child abuse should be at the very top of the agenda if the regulator is going to have any teeth. 

However we have so often covered the policy of clubs of “losing” medical records in order to cover up the fact that young players have been played while carrying an injury that I recognise the danger of losing readership over it – but the problem remains.

Clubs are obliged to keep proper medical records, particularly of young players, but when a case arises that needs access to these records the records have a habit of having gone missing – and that seemingly is a perfect excuse.  One problem that makes this matter worse is that police forces appear to be very reluctant to investigate the way young players are treated at clubs.

Indeed it is well known that clubs will use the tactic of letting matters drag on and on until they can argue that the case is too old to be considered.

For example, ahead of a legal hearing arranged for June 2023 it was reported that lawyers acting for Celtic tried to get legal action over child abuse stopped on the grounds that too much time had passed since the alleged occurrence of the abuse for the players to get a fair hearing.

When that seemingly failed, then in October last year it was reported that Celtic began negotiations to settle legal claims of historical abuse brought by more than 20 former players.

Unfortunately tackling the Football League and football clubs in general is hampered by the free and easy way that some clubs appear to have turned a blind eye to possible child abuse both in terms of sexual abuse and in terms of playing young players when they are injured.  They then later release the player without spending money on helping him recover – for it is then no longer their problem.  

But we might be able to help a bit…

Because the way clubs are getting around their responsibility seems to be by “losing” the medical records of young players who come to a club without an agent looking after them, all that needs to be done is to insist that a copy of all medical records is lodged elsewhere.  

That at least is the argument (and it seems a pervasive one to me in terms of having the case investigated fully).   But the clubs seem to have been able to keep this simple change to the rules off the agenda.  Quite how I am not sure – but that will be for someone else to discover.

Certainly, all this could be dealt with very easily by making it a criminal offence for which directors of an organisation can be held personally responsible, for a football club to fail to take sufficient care of medical records and ensure that they are not “lost”.   

Then to make sure we have a belt and braces approach, clubs should be forced to lodge a second copy of the medical records with the Football League who themselves would be legally responsible for the records’ safekeeping.

Such a move would show us all that Lisa Nandy MP really has a grip of her new job.

Further reading….

Maybe at last the media is waking up to the notion of child abuse in football.

Child abuse and dealing in under age children is still rampant in football 

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