To the Football Association, from Simon Bailey
I am writing to you as a concerned supporter of both England and of a Premier League football team.
The history of football in England is rich and diverse, but at the root of it are the clubs that make up the leagues. Clubs that have existed more than a hundred years, that have become synonymous with the community in which they exist. Clubs that collectively have millions of fans locally and billions internationally.
In spite of this, I firmly believe that all is not well in the English game. I believe we have lost sight of the ideals that foster all that is good and are embracing many evils in the quest for glory at any cost.
It is unlikely that it has escaped your attention that football is increasingly covered in equal amounts on the front and back pages. All too often it is for the wrong reasons.
The constant exposes depicting one player or other acting disgracefully off the pitch is balanced by the ever present mention of poor refereeing decisions, financial irregularity, criminal actions, and violent conduct on the pitch.
We are well acquainted with the alleged activities of our ex captain and the considerable coverage and embarrassment that inevitably follow such situations.
Whilst it is true to say that you cannot control the press, what you can control is the symptoms of the problem itself. With so many aspects of our modern game broken, it is no wonder that some overpaid stars act the way they do.
One of the biggest problems in the modern game is how it is refereed. I am not for a moment going to imply that the four officials that come to matches are in any way sub standard. With the pace of the modern game it is ridiculous to suggest that these four men are going to see and remember every single incident in 360* vision for 90+ minutes. And then agree with each other as well. As the game evolves into an ever faster spectacle, their job will become harder and harder, and even more game changing decisions will be made in error. Introducing technology is simple, relatively cheap, and essential. I urge you to implement such changes as soon as possible.
Another issue central to refereeing, is how referees interpret the rules. This is mainly an issue of violent play and how it is allowed to escalate during a game, sometimes with horrendous consequences. Allied to this is ‘rotational fouling’ where members of one team will take it in turns to foul the same opposition player, avoiding any sanction from the referree. The number of injuries suffered by players in the Premier League is staggering and the inevitable result is that teams have to have bigger squads to cope with them. I urge you to give more guidance to your referees in this respect.
Bigger squads means more money. Clubs have to spend more and more money on transfers and wages, often money that simply isn’t there. It is true that under your stewardship, the English League has become the most wealthy in the world and attracts talent that I as a fan feel privileged to watch week in week out. But in the process, it has also become the most indebted. With the recent demise of Portsmouth in the Premier league and countless teams in the other leagues it has become clear that something must be done to combat this worrying trend. Clubs must be financially viable and live within their means and I urge you to give this matter serious consideration.
At the other end of the scale is the financial doping of teams. Whether your team is personally financed to the tune of millions by a private individual, or leveraged to the hilt in the quest for short term gains then any victories they win are undoubtedly hollow. Limits need to be introduced defining the maximum percentage of income that can be spent on players wages.Clubs must be able to show that they are financing their operation from current income. Clubs should not be put into debt by caretaker owners and managers to finance the purchase of players. Full accounting disclosure concerning every aspect of the clubs ownership and current financial situation should be mandatory and I ask that you attend to these serious issues.
Club ownership is another area that needs your urgent attention. I firmly believe that your ‘fit and proper persons’ test is simply not working.There have been many instances lately concerning clubs in many leagues where the test has failed to prevent what were in hindsight not the correct people being involved in our game. A new test must be introduced, the process of which must be fully transparent and the information held in the public domain. These tests must address financial as well as moral issues. A similar test must be introduced for all high profile employees of the FA.
As the most successful league in the world I believe that we should cement our presence in Europe rather than diminish it. The introduction of a lottery for the fourth place Champions league position will introduce teams that are not the best that we can offer. I fully understand your wish to release the stranglehold that currently exists, but as is becoming clear this season, it may end naturally, and we still send the best we have to offer. The proposed introduction of financial regulations by UEFA concerning this matter should also be noted.
As the guardians of the game I love, I urge you to start to guard it and the clubs and supporters that make it what it should be today.
Recent financial stories from Untold Arsenal
- Complete review of EPL clubs’ debts, and why it is getting worse.
- EPL owes more money than rest of Europe put together
- You don’t know what you’re doing
- Financial stability or ambition. Which do you want?
- Arsenal’s own liquidation, and their rise from the grave
ARSENAL IN THE PAST…
- The days when football journalists could write, entertain and make us laugh (a true newspaper report about Arsenal in the 1930s)
- Why did Arsenal move to Highbury and not somewhere else
- Chelsea get into the league – the biggest fix in Football League history
- How Arsenal got into the 1st Division in 1919, and why it wasn’t a fix
- “Making the Arsenal” – the novel. The most extraordinary book about Arsenal ever. And that’s unofficial. Available from Amazon.co.uk and from the publishers direct.
Wild celebrations in FIFA today, with the news that the building of the WC Final stadium (that’s just one stadium) is $500m over budget. The whole plan of FIFA is to get countries to pay FIFA officials NOT to give them the WC contract and for this plan to work it is vital that, as with the Olympics, each and every event leaves the host nation bankrupt.
John Terry has been elected Chairman of the North Korean Communist Party. Described in a speech this morning by Fabio I-dunna-paya-taxa as “The Great Leader” Terry will have a choice of sixteen female members of the People’s Farming Collective Central Committee each weekend.
The sound of a billion fans saying “What happened?” as the EPL destroys the economy of the UK is copyright © Untold Arsenal 2010.