Why are club owners so against proper regulation and financial control?

By Tony Attwood

Under current regulations the Premier League clubs sell their broadcasting rights collectively, the money received being shared between clubs in the league, and to a small extent through solidarity payments with the Championship.

So the clubs that bring in big TV audiences don’t get as much as they could, but they agree to the deal as a way of holding the league together, and avoiding the sort of situation seen in many countries where only one or two clubs can win the league each year and multiple clubs are simply propped up by owners whose money comes from sources no one really wants to know about.

But the historic model has been undermined through the funding of Chelsea and Manchester City, and now is being challenged even further by the funding of Newcastle.

We have had one attempt by the top clubs across Europe to by-pass restrictions and make even more money, by having their own competition – the Super League.  Meanwhile the process is not working well in the Championship where it is becoming commonplace for clubs that spend 200% of their income on salaries in an attempt to get promotion.

Parachute payments also have a problem given the propensity for clubs that are relegated to bounce back up again, as they have more money to spend.

So the club owners (who value money above football as a competitive sport) are now trying to get together with a set of proposals for the future of their own – although being the sort of people who are not used to listening to anyone else, they are lacking in any sort of unified formulation and no general ability to think. 

Indeed you can always tell when this is the case, for it means a senior executive of a business will compare a new proposal (such as an independent regulator of football) to something that might happen in North Korea.   

Steve Parrish of Crystal Palace particularly objected to the idea of looking at the connections of potential investors saying, “Wow, that’s some power – ‘You can’t buy something because I don’t like your friends’. Sounds more like something from North Korea.”  No it doesn’t Mr Parrish.  You are just being stupid.

So let’s think about this.  At the moment, if I manage to persuade a publisher to use an article of mine, the publisher will pay me some money.  Except I don’t get it all.  20% of it goes to the state.   That is what governments do.  It is called tax.   If that sounds like North Korea to Parrish or Karren Brady, then that reflects how much time and effort they already put into avoiding paying tax.

It is also said that the Premier League as a whole wants the FA to be its regulator – and we know why that is – the FA couldn’t regulate a lost shoe box under a child’s bed.  (For examples see Sweet FA. A history of the idiocy and incompetence in football administration and the series of articles that follow on from that, listed below.)

Yet other sports, from Formula One to rugby, manage to impose a regulation which caps salary at a proportion of income – but seemingly not football.  But not it seems, football.

The reason that owners are against regulation is that part of their plan involves the selling of the club in order to to secure the finances of their family for the new few generations.  That means selling to a very rich person, and the one thing very rich people don’t like is any form of regulation that restricts their ability to buy and influence anything they want in the future.

That in the end is what all this is about.

The FA and the corruption files

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