FA to lose yet more money in a year of losing money

By Tony Attwood

It all began in March when the Daily Mail ran the headline “FA set to make £20m loss”.  That wouldn’t have worried too many people  – after all an organisation the size of the FA might make occasional losses one year and then pick up the next year.

And we know that the FA had a turnover of £376m for 2017/18 so it ought to be ok.  Besides it was growing at a huge pace, getting ever more money from broadcasting and sponsorship.

But then in April the first warning signs came out with the Daily Mail telling us that the FA was planning to cut its under 20s team in order to save money.

At first there were mumblings about a little loss, then a bigger loss and by last month there was talk of a £300m loss, according to the Times which was then talking of “huge cuts” being made.

Now today the news is that the FA is to get rid of 124 jobs.  Again the £300m losses are mentioned, which it is hoped can be repaid over a four year period.

Of course chaos in the FA is nothing new.  In 2015 Untold reported that Sport England had stopped giving grants to the FA for the improvement of facilities, because it had not improved any facilities.  And then we asked why none of the media mentioned that.  It appeared the media didn’t want to rub the FA up the wrong way for fear of losing its press passes.

So the FA continued doing its own thing and if anyone complains they just say, “Oh they don’t understand us” or (as with the case of the non-improvement of grounds) they blame the weather.

Chief executive, Mark Bullingham, made a statement that, “We have a responsibility to preserve our core functions that regulate and serve English football.   We also have a duty to support our men’s and women’s senior teams in their efforts to win major tournaments.”

Well yes, maybe, but isn’t there a moral responsibility too?  Such as not partaking in the World Cup in Qatar in stadia that have been built by slave labour?  Presumably not.

Anyway, its not their fault they are losing money.  I know that because that is what they have said.  But maybe they would like to consider this…

The Football Association previously lost £1.6m of public funding for failing to halt the sharp decline in the number of people regularly playing the sport.  This in turn was because it failed to provide decent pitches.   That time it wasn’t their fault either.  They blamed the weather, and yet I think we have had weather since the FA was formed in 1863.

At that time of cutting their support for the FA, Sport England’s chief executive Jennie Price told the BBC: “I think this is a serious message to the FA. We’ve invested, over four years, £30m of public money in the FA so they have a real responsibility to spend it wisely and deliver results.   Taking £1.6m away is a real sign they need to do something different and I think they will take it seriously.”

And Sport England, we should note, not only considered participation numbers but also each sport’s plans to try to increase interest at grassroots level.   Cricket, rugby union and badminton all showed they were really trying to get more people involved.  But the FA had no effective plans to get more people playing – in fact far fewer were playing because the number of pitches were declining.

Then we had Nigel Adams, the then sports minister, reporting  that the government had asked the Football Association, “in no uncertain terms” to reconsider a deal that allows seven gambling companies to show FA Cup matches live on their websites to customers who are registered to bet.

Now we know that criticism of the FA for its involvement in gambling followed the fact that in 2017, the FA agreed a six-year deal so that IMG could sell online streaming rights to gambling companies.   And in the Conservative Party manifesto for the election in December there was a pledge to change the relationship between gambling and sports.  So that will presumably be pushed through.

But this might just be one disaster too many for the FA after years and years of cock ups.  But while enquiries go on, maybe someone could ask just where the money from the Community Shield match each year has gone.  We’ve been asking for six years, and still don’t have an answer.