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November 2020
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The failures of the FA: Part 6 – if we don’t communicate it is your fault

By Tony Attwood

This is the sixth part of a series of articles reviewing the catastrophe that is the Football Association and the total inability of the UK government to stop funding it with tax payers money

In 2018 Literhland REMYCA was kicked out of the FA Cup because it has not paid a £10 fine it says he knew nothing about.  As a result it lost all funding from the FA Cup – which is expected to be several thousands of pounds – enough to keep a tiny team like that going for another year.

Now the whole thing goes back to that bane of football, “playing an ineligible player” – a rule that itself goes right back to the early days of the game, which was introduced to stop clubs poaching players match by match in the 19th century.  We’ve already had one story like this – and here is the same issue cropping up again.

The club’s argument is that they were told that the fine of £10 for a booking was paid – the player himself paying it to his previous club, and believing that the club had paid the FA.  These fines could be seen as a kind of extortion money – one of the ways the FA keeps its leaders going in their lives of luxury.

Since there is no mechanism by which Literhland could find out if the money had been paid or not, the only source of information they had was their player (or the FA if they chose to tell the club that the money had not been paid).  The player said he had paid, the FA said nothing, and so the club played on.

Then they were kicked out of the Cup.  The club that should have paid the money (Knowsley) have seemingly now dropped out of the league they previous played in.   The FA say that as the administrative body in charge of football it is not (yes that is NOT) their duty to check that fines have been paid or keep tabs on such things.

Personally I wonder what they do actually do.

Anyway it is a general rule in a democratic society that punishments fit the crime – so we don’t have the death penalty for saying something naughty about the members of the royal family for example – but this sort of general rule seems to have by-passed the FA, who are, as we have seen before, still struggling to enter the 20th century, let alone the 21st.

Apparently the FA think the fine is ok because the FA Challenge Cup sub-committee said that Litherland were not “diligent enough”. (Let me remind you this is the FA talking – the organisation that took on Sam Allerdyce seemingly without realising that he had been accused of all sorts of nefarious activity in a BBC TV Panorama programme, had threatened to sue the BBC, and then… oh, never did.  Where was their diligence in appointing Allerdyce?)

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But let us consider for a moment how much money the FA gets each year.

The BBC, which pays the FA huge amounts of public money each year to show FA Cup matches have revealed that the FA get £7.5 million per year from the government funded Sport England.  It also receives £1.5 million a year for the FA Skills programme.

It then gets £10 million a year through the Facilities Fund and £8 million via the Parklife project.  Plus the FA receives £2 million a year for its coaching programmes.

Put all that together and the total is about £29 million of government funding per year.   But that is before they get grants from the state for running Wembley Stadium.  That sum dwarfs all the others and adds up to about £120,000,000.

And there is more, because the FA gets huge amounts of money from the BBC via Fifa for showing England world cup matches.   The BBC’s money comes from a state tax on everyone who owns a TV or computer in the UK – the “licence fee”.

And in getting all this money they think it is the duty of a tiny amateur team to launch an in-depth detective operation to find out if another club no longer associated with a league, actually paid a £10 fine after they had been given the money by a player to do so.

Quite simply every story we run about the FA is fairly nauseating, but this takes them to a new level.

Footnote: On 27 March 2014 Sport England announced that it was cutting its funding of the FA’s grassroots football programme for failing the deliver results and value for the public money it receives.  It was also told to improve its performance if it did not want further cuts.   The money that Sport England saved was then given directly to other bodies that were investing in grassroots football.  The media didn’t touch the story because of an agreement they have with the FA about coverage of England and FA Cup matches.  You can read the whole tale here.

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