Monopoly suppliers need regulators or democracy. In football we have neither.

By Tony Attwood

Sport, as the EU recognises in its regulations, is different.   There is competition within it – that is by and large the whole point – but that competition is different from that of firms competing in most open markets.  The competitive route is structured in a particular way – primarily through having a pyramid of leagues.

Which in turn means that at the top of the pyramid there is a monopoly supplier, in England’s case the Premier League.  It makes its own rules, controls itself, and decides what’s what.   PGMO is another such monopoly supplier.

In many democracies monopoly suppliers are fairly strictly regulated – it is a while since I had cause to look at the legislation but I do recall that cartels were made illegal earlier this century with maximum prison sentence of 5 years for those engaged in them, and that generally any business that has over 30% of the market should, in English law, be considered for investigation and possibly being broken up.

Now a cartel in such discussions and laws is considered to be an association of companies or organisations  that exists to maintain prices at a high level while restricting competition.

So is the Premier League a cartel?  Is PGMO a cartel?  Is Uefa a cartel?   The FA?  Quite possibly by most definitions they could well be.  But, as I have mentioned, sport is generally treated differently from the rest of life.

Nevertheless it does seem to me that there really ought to be some sort of discussion about the way these bodies are acting.  As we have seen through many debates on this site, Uefa’s rules restricting the amount of money that, at one time at least, could be spent on players by clubs, were challenged by some supporters who felt they broke the various fair trade regulations in the EU.  These restrictions were upheld, because the EU courts hearing the objections upheld the notion that sport is different from other commercial activities.

So monopoly suppliers can exist, such as PGMO.  But even so one might then ask, who is the regulator of PGMO?

The answer is perhaps to some degree the Uefa Referees’ Committee, which resides in Nyon, Switzerland.  Pierluigi Collina is the  Uefa chief refereeing officer.  It also oversees courses for referees including courses on fitness of referees.

From this organisation referee observers, go to Uefa matches to assess referees assess their performance and act as advisers.  There is also a Uefa Centre of Refereeing Excellence which aims to “develop the technical skills and fitness of promising young referees and assistant referees who show the potential to become future international match officials.”  But I am not at all sure they have any control over the refereeing in the PL.

All of this tells us that there is regulation, but it all comes from within Uefa, which means that what we have overall is football controlling football; in refereeing as in other matters within football there is no broader regulation.

Governments cannot become involved, because as we have noted before, if a government seeks to interfere with the running of its national football association, it is immediately thrown out of Fifa.  So unless a group of countries got together with the deliberate intention of taking on Fifa, nothing is going to change.

Self-regulating industries can work ok, but this doesn’t always happen.  That is why in the UK we have regulation of various activities, from the supply of water through to the Stock Exchange, from policing, to the ultimate regulator – the people’s right to vote our politicians from time to time.  It is also why we have the Parliament that makes the laws and the courts which quite independently apply and interpret the laws both separate from the police which are charged with enforcing the laws.  It’s not always perfect but it does give a certain level of protection.

The danger of a football industry that is self-regulated is that there are a lot of reasons why some people might want to take advantage of the situation.  Take for example the multi-billion dollar gambling industry which has a very strong interest in the results of football matches.  Take some of the biggest clubs – for it was they who instigated the match fixing era in Italy.

Or take the FA itself, and the questions to be asked about what it does with its money.  One may ask how much money was collected for Grenfell Tower, and how much has been paid out and to whom.  One may ask, but one doesn’t seem to get an answer.

The reality is that self-regulating bodies can work well, and maybe there is nothing wrong with the running of the FA, PGMO, the Premier League, Uefa, Fifa or any other body in football, but it would be nice to have a regulator from outside football looking at these bodies and saying, “just a minute – this lark with the way money from TV companies for the world cup, ends up in a little company in Zug – is that right?”

Or, “there does seem to be an awful lot of questions about Fifa officials and money.  Is it really right it should be self regulating?”    Or “PGMO does seem to have a very limited number of referees, and seems to be very secretive.  Why is that?”

One day perhaps one country’s football officials will have enough gall to say, “this is beyond crazy,” and do something, rather than going along with the whole setup, and just moaning every now and then when a referee makes a decision that is so bizarre that they complain a lot via the media – and then do nothing at all.

PS: The comments page has been updated following the introduction of a new scam by those who don’t like it.  If you comment isn’t published you might like to have a look at that page.

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5 Replies to “Monopoly suppliers need regulators or democracy. In football we have neither.”

  1. Off Topic (maybe)

    Our referee for Saturday – MIKE DEAN

    Make of that what you will! One thing is for certain we will be playing the officials as well as Spurs

  2. What we did have was an observabe performance where:

    “the referee had an absolutely atrocious input into the resukt if the game…expected goals was 0.7 for City 0.6 for us, one more shot on target that’s all…”

    And the gaffer’s said that with a week to reflect, review, and look at the number crunchers’ analysis’.

    Not forgetting the incongrous foul/card counts which were ridiculous in the West Brom match (a home victory), ket alone certain other matches already this season.

    You can dress up a turd with all kinds of fancy bells and whistles and soundbites* but unfortunately it’s still going to stink.

    *the greatest story ever told!’ I get the impression that the Thai courts did not agree with that one…

  3. Supposedly this link points to Mike Dean dancing at a game he did of Arsenal versus the Tottenspud.

    But, the search for Mike Dean dancing turns up many other hits. It seems he likes dancing.

    I haven’t watched the video, it could be loaded with malware for all I know.

  4. Arsene has been firing from the hips at the Pig MOB in his interview with beIN Sports. Now I hope those jokers would throw the entire library of laws at him for bringing the game into disrepute. “I don’t mind,” he said. “I am 35 years in this job [as a football manager]. It [a sanction] will not change my mind or the way I think.”

    What he said that was so refreshing was he accusing the Pig MOB of not doing their homework – I guess that is why they fail so often in all AFC matches! Bring it on Arsene!!! Time for the whole sand castle of game refereeing in EPL to be brought down and the Pig MOB reorganized.

  5. Let the PIGMOB throw the book at him . Let us see what rules they’d apply and allow Le Prof a great chance to rebut it all to their faces .
    They probably will not have the balls to call him to enlarge on his comments on the crap ref and the blind linesman .
    Go on , we dare you -make our day !

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