Who controls football in England? Part 2 of our series looks at the League, FA, Fifa, Uefa and advertisers


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By Tony Attwood

In the first article in this little series on who controls football in England I came up with my top five entities that actually run football in England…

  1. TV stations
  2. Newspapers and radio stations
  3. PGMO
  4. Sponsors
  5. Players

Since there were some kind comments about the analysis, and some very interesting further analyses as well, I thought I’d plod on with my next five.  Meanwhile if you missed the first article it is of course still on the site.

     6.  The Premier League

In breaking away from the Football League, in order to keep more money for themselves, the Premier League were supported by the FA, who subsequently found they had made a bit of a blunder and had enabled a monster they now couldn’t control.

But since then, it has become a common observation that to understand the PL all you have to do is see some of the messes it has got itself involved in…

In 2006, West Ham did a deal with four companies to bring in Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano.  But having done that it turned out West Ham did not own the players per se, but had merely purchased economic rights to their signatures.  That was fundamentally against the rules of all football in England.

The PL fined WHU £5m but did not remove any points because they didn’t see why the fans should suffer from the club’s illegal activities!!!  (Was this an issue when Arsenal were docked two points after a bit of a hoo-ha at Old Trasfford in the 1990/1 season?  No one thought of us then.)

So WHU kept these illegally acquired players and with these players WHU avoided relegation and Sheffield Utd went down.  Sheffield Utd then went after WHU for compensation with the Premier League standing helpless in the wings desperately hoping no one noticed, and to avoid a dispute in the courts WHU paid up.  The Independent quoted a figure of £18m.

Moving on, in recent decades, the topic of female equality and the opportunity for women to have as many rights in football as men has become one of increasing discussion and debate.

The PL however has been notable by its silence on this matter, just as it was when its broadcaster of choice had Andy Gray and Richard Keys abusing a female assistant ref live on air.  Sky did remove the disgusting pair of prats, but the PL did nothing.   The prats then moved on to Talk Sport and commentating on PL matches for overseas channels.

Moving on again, in 2012, former Southampton player Claus Lundekvam claimed that he and others regularly manipulated matches for financial gain making arrangements with the opposition captain about betting on the first throw, corner, yellow card or penalty. The Guardian ran this story and the Mail followed with reports that Liverpool allegedly benefited from match fixing during a 2009 Champions League game.    The PL made no comment.   The story went away and there has long been a suspicion that pressure was put on the media to drop the investigations.

In January 2005, Chelsea tapped up Ashley Cole from Arsenal.  Scudamore at the PL set up an independent commission to look into the matter which found that Cole, Mourinho and Chelsea were guilty of breaking Premier League Rules. Cole was fined £100,000. Mourinho £200,000 and Chelsea FC £300,000 and a suspended three-point deduction.  The points deduction did not get implemented.  The fines, compared to the damage done to Arsenal, were tiny, and it gave a signal to all clubs that tapping up could now take place for a very minor cost.

In January 2006 former ex Luton manager Mike Newell and ex QPR manager Ian Holloway said that bribery was rife in English football.   In September that year the BBC ran a Panorama programme on corruption.  Eventually Scudamore of the PL set up an independent investigation agency which reported in December 2006 revealing 17 transfers that looked dubious involving five clubs, three managers and numerous agents.  Nothing happened.  Sam Allyerdyce who was implicated announced he was suing the BBC.  He never did, which of itself is quite interesting.

In May 2014 emails containing numerous sexist and insulting remarks written by Scudamore were leaked by a former temporary PA. Scudamore said that the emails were “private emails exchanged between colleagues and friends of many years,” even though he used the PL account to send out the emails. He apologise but nothing else happened.

The power of the Premier League can be seen in all these stories.  If caught they investigate and nothing of consequence happens.  No matter what the allegation nothing happens.  That is the measure of supreme power.

7  Fifa

For an organisation that is known to be corrupt and is clearly broken, Fifa wields enormous power, for three reasons.  One the sponsors continue to pay into it.  Two the broadcasting companies continues to pay into it.  Three the Football Associations in each country continue to support it.  They might make noises, but they don’t pull out.

Given all that support, both moral and financial, it is clearly safe for Fifa to continue to manipulate the game worldwide.

Fifa decides when games are played (imposing rules about when there will be the preposterous international breaks, and regulating the TV market) and insists that clubs have to release players, even though Fifa makes no payment for the use of players.   Some countries have to pay compensation if a player gets injured on international duty, but not all.

So it wasn’t surprising that Fifa arranged for the world cup to be held in a country with no footballing tradition, where league games are attended by crowds of a few thousands, where migrant workers are treated as slave labour, and where fundamental human rights are overruled by the constitution of the country.

Meanwhile Fifa insists that only the products of its sponsors should be shown, hence the infamous occasions in which people wearing the wrong t-shirts are imprisoned and held in appalling conditions without trial – South Africa joyfully seemed to engage in this partnership with Fifa.

Fifa pays no taxes (if there is a suggestion that they should, they simply will not give the games to the host nation) and demand the same sort of political immunity from prosecution which emissaries of countries get.   They even demand, and get, their own car lanes and thus disrupt traffic throughout the cities where they swan around in their freely provided cars.

Fifa also demands that nothing contrary to the Fifa image of itself is shown in the host nation during a world cup tournament.  Indeed so strong are its political demands for no negative publicity that in the run up to the elections which saw Russia and Qatar will the right to hold a world cup, the FA begged the BBC not to show a Panorama programme on the corruption within Fifa, for fear it would exclude them from the right to stand.  In fact England only got two votes, after the BBC to its eternal credit, would not bend the knee to the will of Fifa.

Fifa thus has massive control over how the game is played, when and where it is played.  Of course it does make the occasional right decision – such as tackling child trafficking by clubs in Spain, but these tiny victories for basic human rights count as nothing in their support of countries where human rights are simply non-existent.

There is massive evidence that all voting procedures in Fifa are rigged and that bribery is rife, and yet Fifa is right up near the top in terms of the way football is organised on a country by country basis.  And yet the English establishment has loved their every move.

8 Uefa

Uefa is little Fifa in action, controlling football in Europe.  This is the organisation that fines or otherwise deals with outbreaks of racism and the like across Europe in club matches.

The benchmark was set when in June 2012 Nicklas Bendtner was fined £80,000 for unauthorised sponsorship as well as getting a one-match ban and charged with improper conduct after he revealed a betting company’s logo after lifting up his shirt while celebrating a goal against Portugal in a Euro 2012 group game.  That then is the basis against which all other fines should be measured.  £80,000 and a one match ban.  We can see what other fines have been imposed.

Four months later, Lazio were fined £32,500 by Uefa after their fans undertook monkey chanting aimed at Jermain Defoe, Aaron Lennon and Andros Townsend.  Three Tottenham goals were ruled out and the match ended 0-0 with no enquiry into the referee.  (Compare with £80,000)

Two months later Serbia were fined £65,000 for racist chanting and violence on the pitch in Serbia’s Under-21 game against England in the European Championship qualification play-off.  (Compare with £80,000)

In January 2013 AC Milan midfielder Kevin Prince-Boateng took his team off the pitch in a friendly after insulting chants were heard.  The President of the Italian Football Association, said the abuse of Boateng was “unspeakable and intolerable”.  Uefa did nothing saying it was a friendly and so they were powerless to act.  (Compare with £80,000)

The list goes on and on.  Porto fined £16,700, Bulgaria FA fined £34230, Croatia fined £10,000, Macedonia fined £16,500..   (Compare with £80,000).

Ajax were fined £8500 when fans unfurled a banner with a picture of a sheikh clutching a bag of money with the caption “against modern football”.  Man City were find £24740 for coming out late in the second half in a match.  And in March 2012  Arsene Wenger was given a three-match suspension and fined £33,000 for talking too severely to the referee at the end of a Champions League match against Milan.

I think that shows you where their priorities lie.

9 The Football Association.

The FA managed to shoot themselves in the foot by supporting the Premier League’s breakaway from the Football League, and then found themselves marginalised.  It was typical of what they are and what they do.   They have since been in massive financial trouble, recently made over one third of their staff redundant, have the lowest number of people going through its referee courses per number of players of any European country, and had a grant given by the government to help it develop grassroots football removed after it misappropriated the funds.

Grassroots football is now in total decline, and the FA and government have hit on the ploy of demanding the Premier League pays for it, even though it is the FA’s remit.  This move might well succeed and will once again let the FA off the hook instead of bringing its history and whole existence into question, as should happen.

The FA has courted constant disaster by cozying up to Fifa, as when it lashed out a fortune entertaining Jack Warner, part of which involved a trip to Prince Charles’ home and what the Daily Mail called a £135,000 sweetener.

The Football Association chairman, Greg Dyke, has described a sexist email exchange involving the Premier League’s chief executive, Richard Scudamore, as “totally inappropriate”, and nothing happened.  So much for their influence

Meanwhile Greg Dyke admitted unwittingly breaching both customs rules and Fifa’s code of ethics after accepting a £16,000 designer watch at the World Cup and bringing it back to the UK.

The Fifa’s ethics committee ordered the return of 65 Parmigiani timepieces handed to football officials, including the Football Association chairman, before the tournament in Brazil.  When Fifa catch you out on a matter of ethics you know you are in trouble.

The FA’s powerbase has declined but their willingness to kowtow with Uefa and Fifa, not fight over the ludicrous position on racism, and spend money trying to get the World Cup to England, shows what a manic and dangerous organisation it is.

10. Advertisers

Advertisers are of course like sponsors, but without the regular commitment, but they still have a huge influence on football, for if one of your big advertisers suddenly says he doesn’t like the product, then all the talk about editorial integrity can go out the window.   It doesn’t always happen and some publications are known to stand up to any attempts to manipulate the product by the advertisers, but I have severe doubts as to whether any commercial broadcasters or indeed clubs have such integrity to stand up to advertisers.

There’s no doubt that if advertisers had stood up to the broadcast companies about Fifa and Uefa at any time, they would have had an influence, even if the sponsors had stayed loyal.  And the fact that in the UK we have an advertising free, independent and tax funded broadcaster, helps to moderate the influence a little.  But even the BBC is under pressure to follow suit and broadcast football as the advertisers want them to do.

What advertisers who buy spots within football programmes want beyond everything else are people who think that football is a jolly good thing.  The last thing they want is people like the writers and readers of Untold suggesting that there are all sorts of things wrong with football – starting with referees are either bent or incompetent and working down.   So they treat fans as jolly funny chaps who can be interviewed occasionally, and who have opinions which can be heard on phone ins, but otherwise ignored and make it clear that they are pulling their advertising out of football if certain news stories are opened up.

That’s the second ground of five influences then.  And what does all this mean – this list of organisations, players, advertisers and sponsors, and broadcasters?  It means the fans are ignored.  Not one of these organisations thinks about the fans other than to say, “If you support the club you’ll turn up, behave as we tell you, follow our rules, and buy whatever we tell you.”

I will carry on with the next five when time and space permits.

Next up The Rugby Club vs Arsenal

Please note that there won’t be a post-match review by Walter today due to the Arsenal Belgium AGM being held.  Walter’s asked me to give his apologies, and also his thanks to everyone who looks out for the report (and emails him to ask where it is, when he takes more than 10 minutes to complete it).

Insult of the day (dedicated today to Stoke City):

I am stifled by this smell.  (King John)

Two anniversaries – more on the home page

  • 17 January 1948: The pivotal match of the season: a 1-1 draw with Man U in front of 81,962 – the biggest crowd for an Arsenal league match and reported as the highest league attendance ever.  The game was played at Maine Road, as Old Trafford was still being repaired after the second world war.
  • 17 January 1968: Arsenal’s first semi-final since 1952 – Arsenal 3 Huddersfield 2 (in the League Cup). Graham, Radford and McNab scored.  After no semi-finals in 16 years Arsenal now went on to six semis in six years ending with a defeat to Sunderland in the FA Cup in 1973.

19 Replies to “Who controls football in England? Part 2 of our series looks at the League, FA, Fifa, Uefa and advertisers”

  1. A classic “too many cooks” situation eh?

    Football has become such a big event one would think that there would slowly be just one international organisation developed to oversee all the individual country organisations, who would just locally carry out/maintain the rules of the international organisation, but i guess national egos are probably too big and then the possibility of enrichment through a personal scam are given. See the problems the EU has consolidating Europe.

  2. Great insight into the game we all call beautiful Tony.

    I do believe that it was the British press that tore FIFA to shreds, especially after denying England. The expose on corruption, stern reports that followed eventually consumed Blatter, Platini and many others.

    Now my concern – if the BBC and others based in England could so courageously tear into a cartel like FIFA, why are they keeping quiet to the obvious mischief and even corruption going on in the EPL? Why do refs and officials like Mike Dean get away with blue murder while same press turn the blind eye?

  3. Some people claim that ‘money is the root of all evil’ they quote wrongly.

    The correct quote is:

    ‘The love of money is the root of all evil’

    We see the reality of this truth by those who have some control of football be it a major or small control.

  4. Again a useful list of operations which effect the PL, but it’s actually run by the PL it’s self. In particular, it’s run by the Marketing and PR dept of the PL, who have just one interest, to make as much money from it as possible. The season has a rough script and certain people (manager, players and anyone else that can get a headline like a medic) are given roles by the PR unit, which the media then expands upon. The main storey is organised by the PGMO and the sub-plots are run by the Marketing and PR team. It’s one big soap opera where each team is given a role. Leicester are the ‘plucky tiddlers fighting against the might of the big guns, whilst Man Disunited are the cornerstone of the PL success, $iteh are the new money Noisy neighbours and we are the Johnny foreigner managed team with odd continental ideas about football. The fact that most other teams are managed by non-uk guys is irrelevant as we are already that team, with some of the others waiting to take our place if we fail.

    Fifa and Uefa may set some of the guidelines but will never run the PL unless they enforce the rules of the game to be interpreted in the way they’re actually intended.
    Until then they are just a bystander.

    The FA have zero effect on the PL.

    Advertisers are a major influence but won’t run the game as long as there’s other potential advertisers who can take their place. Having said that, the PL marketing and PR team do run it 100% to get the advertisers money, so they are the grease that allows the PL Marketing and PR cogs to turn.

  5. Following yesterdays’ efforts of the self styled “Elite” it could be argued the the Premier League, along with their co-conspirators PGMOL, the Media and the FA, are surging forward their desire to re-write the meaning of bribery and corruption. Or, in the case of Anthony Taylor and Mike Jones, perhaps it is fairer to say “incompetence”.

    Then there is the self important media, who on Channel PGMOL this morning, made one of their own the centre of attention, as opposed to discussing the incompetence of our referees.

    So, as long as the administration, lawmakers and decision makers, backed by the fawning media, continue with their “heads in the sand” governing of the game in this country, the more confusing their end game becomes.

  6. We were talking on here this week about refereeing issues and Keith Hackett’s opinions on them. I’m still highly dubious about him, yet interested to hear his take. The following was from a piece in May and seems relevant to those discussions this week and today’s article:

    —— ——– ——-

    [‘The other question is do the PGMOL and The Football Association have a strategic plan that enables the flow of young competent officials to get to the top by merit and not cronyism? I think not!

    And now perhaps the most important question – who pays?’]
    ———— ————

    The cronyism stuff is intriguing enough but it’s the last bit that really interests me; it suggests it is as I thought, and that despite the obscene money in football we have a situation where, ludicrously, it is not being channeled towards developing referees.

    My understanding is that all stages of development up to the final one when a referee enters the pgmol fold are funded by the (poor) FA, while Pgmol is a totally different entity, funded differently (direct from premier league?) and with healthy finances

    Why would anyone want that situation?

    Why would it not be an obvious and uncontroversial move, desirable for the clubs, pgmol, the fa and every other party to remedy this situation and use some of the gargantuan riches from the tv deal to significantly improve funding for referees? With the aim, of course, of providing the best standard of referees possible from the bottom up, which is ultimately the only way to look after the top level of refereeing.

    If al parties are clean and reasonably competent, simple undeniable logic should lead to refereeing at all levels being extremely well funded. Thanks to being easily the richest league in the world, surely that should mean we have the best funded refereeing programme in the world, instead of the utterly ludicrous situation of being cash-strapped below the top level, which is the only place that those who can reach the top level come from.

    Why are all the clubs, who must be totally aware refereeing is not being optimally funded, and who all do their share of complaining about refereeing, not insistent that simple, easily affordable steps are taken to sort the situation out?

    It cannot be explained unless some party or parties self-interest is in conflict with what should happen and is preventing it from happening.

    Not so much just ‘follow the money’, but also follow the lack of money.

    Who feels things are perfectly fine as they are? Who likes the current system and standard of refereeing? Who wants it to continue as it is for years and years to come? Who benefits?


  7. Oh, and not sure what he did to earn the privilege in midweek (hard to keep up at the minute) but Anthony Taylor was sent to the championship for a game yesterday.

    The howler he made there is scarcely believable (allowed a corner to take place while a substitute was slowly leaving the field; then allowed the subsequent goal to stand until he came or was helped to his senses)

    In terms of ability, I don’t think the poor bloke is as bad as that, but I suspect his brains are scrambled at the moment.

  8. OOooooops! Rich your misuse of poor for a PGMO idiot is almost Shakespearean.

    However – ‘I am stifled by this smell’ not only describes Stokes fans……the group of whistle blowers also stink.

  9. Football is at least in part, run by crooks of various shades.
    So it seems is the noble sport of tennis…..
    I applaud Untold for even mentioning Scudamore in a lead article, I do it in comments, but have heard he likes the lawyers……

  10. World Football is a spiderweb of corruption, mismanagement and greed…starting with the national associations and their executives(Jack Warner,Chuck Blazer. etc.) and the MAFIFA vampires Blatter, Valecke and Platini. We then see the PIGMOB under smiley Riley merrily running roughshod over the EPL with their stable of incompetents and blind mice.
    If the supporters ever hope to wrestle control of their Beautiful Game from the stuffed suits of the FA and worldwide from FIFA, then here is what needs to happen:

    1)Refuse to participate in this charade, do a rotational boycott of EPL teams and World Cups.
    2)Harass and ridicule the PIGMOB continuously including their 3 blind mice.
    3)Pressure your politicians to start seriously investigating the FA, the EPL, the PIGMOB, FIFA and EUFA and challenge the EU to do the same.
    4)Bombard the media (especially the papers) with letters and e-mails complaining about their biased, 2nd rate and blinkered reporting on Football worldwide and in the UK.

    Anyone have other suggestions?

  11. @ omgarsenal – January 18, 2016 at 2:18 am – What about ….

    5) An Untold Arsenal Youtube or other similar popular sites where match clips , animation clips or puppets or cartoons could be used with humour to point out refs mistakes , fuck ups , and general current observations and commentary .

    We could have our own version of Paul Trevillion ‘s ‘You are the ref ‘ series
    ( http://www.theguardian.com/football/series/you-are-the-ref ) , but use Arsenal games , where the ref had fucked us over as examples. All in jest ( at the refs ) of course. Could become very popular for at least to 2 million of our regular readers .

    What about our own daily page 3 ‘ big boobs ‘ section ? We already have a big pool of ‘them’ on here ! If boobs seem too ( or not ) offensive , what about the daily ‘big butt ‘, ‘dickhead’ , ‘prick’ , ‘cunt’ or ‘pussy ‘- to cater to all tastes ? Piers Mogan could become a popular regular item here !

    I could always contribute jokes and cartoons to keep the masses well informed and also in stitches ! We could even be syndicated worldwide and translated in all languages . With drum rolls and canned laughter .

  12. Lets try it out – Today’s- YOU ARE THE BERK
    ( so as avoid any legal or copyright issues ! And it does sound better !)

    Watch the following clip and answer the question .

    Q :- The lithe, skillful ,quicksilver fast and very charismatic striker has broken free and is in position to attack the home team’s defence , when he is ‘set upon’ and manhandled by the fat , overweight , clearly unfit and not too bright opposing British player , who proceeds not only choke him , but throws him to the ground . What is the next course of action ?

    a)Play on , after all the EPL is robust and tough and meant for real men .

    b)Play on ,for these bloody foreign types are devious enough to ‘fake’ it.

    c) Stop play , prance around , snort in derision and restart with a drop ball.

    d) Although fearful of Orcs and Mikey , you give a foul and book the player .

    e) You send off that !@#$%^&* shitty piece of Neanderthal scum .

    Please don’t cheat , and comply all of your subsequent answers to see how you fare in the great scheme of things .

  13. omgarsenal, Brickfields Gooner

    Only thing I believe could be effective is if you could amass and organise a large amount of clips of incidents and decisions.

    An added bonus would be to have the commentary, as I’m sure it would reveal very different reactions for near-identical incidents (I think there’d be a lot of instant ‘has to be a booking’, ‘I’m not sure that’s even a foul’, etc, for the same thing in different matches.

    What you’d need is lots and lots of clips, well sorted and, ideally, with an additional feature to split it into teams and referees.

    We can only organise our impressions in an ad hoc way, thanks to the ole brain, but I believe it would create at least as damning a picture by using clips to illustrate the bizarre and suspicious refereeing (and commentary that goes on)

    What you would need to make it happen is a number of people working together with excellent computer skills, and…full access to premier league footage.

    That’s the problem, unfortunately. Organising yourself for what would be a difficult, time-consuming undertaking would be hard enough, but it’s an impossibility as, I’ve no doubt, you’d be shut down instantly if you tried putting what clips you could find and had access to on the web. There’s no chance that would be allowed.

    I may not be right on this, but at the time of that Gabriel incident supposedly the only thing that helped clear him was a bit of footage picked up by Brazilian (espn) tv cameras, which was not shown in British broadcasts and which showed no contact was made when Gabriel flicked his foot back. Ominously, the links to that footage all disappeared/ were shut down within a day or so. Never saw that footage again.

    I suspect that high level of control they look to exercise on copyright is, at least in part, about making sure no one gets the idea of putting any clips packages together.

  14. Love it how you guys always have little nuggets of facts to back up what you’re saying. Sorry to be dramatic but it’s a dream to read, because it’s stuff we’ve all felt and sometimes seen for years.

  15. @ Rich – January 18, 2016 at 11:03 am – We need someone with both the skills in making or animating these clips , and who has the resources and the time and passion on their hands .
    We don’t need the live commentary but could use subtitles , to avoid copyright infringement . The animation could be even rudimentary to start with and later any interested party with better skills could be attracted .
    All we want is to do is to show that not everything is right with the EPL , PIGMOB and the media , and to give a different perspective on debatable incidents , fouls and cards .
    Adding some humour often gets attention . These guys are on the right lines –


  16. So, Naughton got off his red card and played last night.

    What’s the betting that the non-holywood referee who sent him off will be down the leagues this week?

    What’s the betting that the other 3 who made glaring errors won’t be demoted?

    BTW, the game between Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds is a derby of north London proportions. That is why they were subjected to Taylor, not through any disciplinary reasons

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