Yet another reason why we need a football regulator

By Tony Attwood

The notion that football should have an independent regulator is something that we have been pounding away at for some time.  The most recent piece on this site was The scandal of the lack of medical records in football in which we looked at the fact that when a young player is injured, clubs are able to avoid any responsibility for the injury (for example due to an unsafe training regime) by claiming there are no records available.

A regulator looking at this situation would undoubtedly immediately say, all records must be kept by the club, and copies lodged with itself.  The clubs would protest that this is more bureaucracy, but the regulator could introduce the rule and clubs would have to obey.  And this one simple step could eliminate a lot of young player injuries by making clubs think twice about unsafe training methods.

At the moment there are no such rules, so no one really knows what happens to young players who are over-trained, overplayed and then abandoned.

That is of course only one reason for wanting a regulator, and we’ve considered many other aspects over time.  There are links to some of the articles at the end of this piece.

But I am back on the theme now, as an article has appeared in the Telegraph which gives yet another reason why the current system of having the FA and the League sorting out matters between themselves is falling apart.

For this article says there is total disagreement between the big clubs and the smaller clubs about what is known as the  “new deal for football”.

This new deal involves there being a solidarity payment system costing around £170 million per year.  It would be paid by the biggest clubs (currently Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur although quite possibly soon including Newcastle as well), to the rest of the league.  And the biggest clubs don’t like it and won’t agree.  There is no one independent body to arbitrate.  The FA and clubs are part of the dispute so they can’t arbitrate, and the Premier League is run by the clubs so that can’t arbitrate.

So yet again, because there is no independent regulator, there is no organisation to resolve the dispute.  Just as there is no organisation to hold clubs to account when they mistreat children and young players, be that in terms of allowing sexual predators free reign in the clubs under the guise of being youth coaches, or in terms of clubs failing to take proper action when a young player is injured, leaving his career and life in ruins as he is simply cast aside by the club.

In this new case, the clubs being asked for the solidarity payment are not objecting to making any payment as such, but are objecting to the way it is calculated – they want it aligned to the merit payments that are made to clubs at the end of each season based on league position.  This in turn would mean the difference in the money paid by one of the big six or seven clubs and the smaller clubs would be quite small.

The rest of the league want a system based on a levy on transfer fees, which would make the fees paid by the “big six” to the rest, much larger.  And so once more, because there is no independent regulator, to make a decision nothing is being agreed.

So here again we have the Premier League trying to sort out arrangements which affect all of professional football, but with no one designated as the final arbitrator.  The FA, the government, the big clubs and the smaller clubs are all at loggerheads.  There is no judge at hand to make a final decision.

Indeed as things stand there is not even an agreement between the six big clubs and the 14 smaller clubs on the order in which things are to be debated and then agreed.

Indeed the matter is made yet more difficult because other issues are being debated at the same time, such as the arrangements over which foreign players are allowed to play in the PL.  Before the UK left the EU these were laid out by the EU, now the UK (in this case the FA) can make its own arrangements.  The FA wants more English players to have a chance to play in the Premier League to enhance the experience of English players it can pick for internationals.  But the clubs want the freedom to buy in the best players in the world in order to stand a chance in European competitions.

Of course, the clubs don’t actually need the FA, save for the fact that Uefa and Fifa, the two mega-corrupt bodies at the top of the tree, have the FA noted as the regulatory body – which it isn’t because you can’t have a regulator that makes cockups as gigantic as the Euros final at Wembley.  True, the power of the FA was of course enhanced by the Premier League getting the endorsement of the FA when the Premier League was set up.  But in terms of the Premier League the FA has long since been an irrelevance.

So this just might be the moment when the Premier League themselves suggest having an independent regulator.

Here are some of our other articles on the need for an independent regulator.

Boris Johnson: “Football should have a regulator” but what would Fifa say about that?

“Football should have a regulator: England’s government challenges Fifa.

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

Of course football needs oversight because no one is protecting the youngsters

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

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