Major element in regulator’s control of football is missing




By Tony Attwood

Untold has long argued that football in England needs a regulator – not least to protect the well-being of young players, who have been exploited and abused, both financially and sexually, by clubs and their staff, over the years.   Time and again we hear of young players and their families who have been promised the earth, with families often moving countries to get what they are promised.  And then, something goes amiss – for example the young player gets injured, and the player is abandoned, the family having lost everything.

Of course, that wouldn’t be all for the regulator to do, for it could also get to grips with all the problems of PGMO and their bizarre policy of utter secrecy, and the very odd statistics surrounding referee behaviour.  Then of course there would be the FA with the gross incompetence it showed over the Euro final at Wembley.

As for the Premier League, they have at last shown their willingness to take on Manchester City, but to prove themselves capable of running their own affairs they also need to consider the issue of Chelsea and its expenditure on players and new approach to contracts. 

But it really is the young player issue that is at the fore of all the problems.  Because players with potential are much more common than those with proven ability, many of these young players being pushed and pushed, without any regard for their health.   And they can pick up career-ending injuries along the way, with the clubs then simply discarding them with only minimal, sometimes pathetic levels of compensation.  And while these youngsters await treatment (which can be long-term) they are set aside by the clubs and simply handed back to the parents as “damaged goods”.

We should not, of course, be surprised by this, given the history of sexual exploitation and abuse of youngsters in clubs.  And for a moment the thought of a football regulator was rather exciting…

But now as details start to emerge of the proposed new regulator we begin to see the horrible truth.  The regulator is going to focus on finance, not on the health and well-being of young players which is the key area of concern.  Football will be allowed to carry on exploiting youngsters for as long as it wants, and as much as it wants, until someone has the guts to stand up and take on a football club that has cast aside a young player at the first sign of injury.

And so, on Thursday when the government presents its white paper on football governance for professional men’s football, it appears there is going to be nothing in the paper on the treatment of young players.

There is talk of putting “fans back at the heart of how football is run” – which in theory could mean fans demanding that children are treated properly.  But it is more likely that fans will be demanding actions that gets their club to the top of the league, not least because that is what the media focuses on.

There is talk of a test for owners and directors designed to ensure “good custodians of clubs” and “stronger due diligence on sources of wealth” which would be helpful.   But it will also be able to stop clubs from joining breakaway competitions such as the European Super League.  Which given that the current international tournaments are run by the two most corrupt bodies in football, Fifa, and Uefa, makes things worse than ever.

But sadly, the way the new body is turning out is as we expected.  And of course the FA’s chief executive, was happy because there was nothing about children in the plan, just a “commitment to improving the financial sustainability and governance of professional clubs”. The Premier League was happy because the clubs can go on exploiting children as much as it likes.  

Politicians and the media said good things about the plan too.  And in the end, instead of any mention about health and safety, all we got were more arguments about money.  Although to be fair that was pretty much all that the fan-led review worried about.

West Ham’s David Sullivan is reported to have said,  “It’s a terrible idea. The government are terrible at running everything. Look at the mess the country’s in. We pay the highest taxes for the worst service from the worst government I’ve seen in my life. The regulator will have a huge staff that football will have to pay for. It will be a total waste of money.”

And if there really is nothing about protecting children from abuse in the programme, then for the first and probably only time ever, I agree with Sullivan.  Here’s the league table


Team P W D L F A GD Pts
18 West Ham United 23 5 5 13 19 29 -10 20
19 Leeds United 23 4 7 12 28 39 -11 19
20 Southampton 23 5 3 15 19 40 -21 18

3 Replies to “Major element in regulator’s control of football is missing”

  1. To me, in today’s world, I just don’t see how a government would legally be able to stop a club competing in a league of it’s choice. It means government tells commecial enterprises (PL clubs) they are not allowed to do their business the way they wish.

    I wonder if this would be legal in any form.

    This means that clubs will have to ask for government approval for summer cups ? Because they are a championship outside the UK, and the rules depend on the organisers.

    So, my perspective is that is another load of BS to manipulate people with loads of blabla while making a power grab as no one is watching.

    The next question then is : who profits ?

  2. No doubt the “Independent” Regulator would be as independent as the Independent Public Sector Pay Review Bodies which the Govt. hide behind to justify imposing pay cuts for the last 13 years.- ie not at all.

  3. John L

    Well said.

    Pay reviews, safety reviews, just about any type of review, is always loaded on the side of the body that instigated the review, as in almost every case the parameters are set before hand to suit that body, be it Government or whoever.

    As such anyone who believes they are in any way shape or form ‘independent’ are living in cuckoo land.

    “Look, we’d love to give X or Y more but our hands are tied because the ‘independent’ regulator said we cant afford to give you any more, sorry’

    “That would be the ‘independent’ regulator YOU set up and YOU told how much you could afford before it even sat down?

    “Yes, that’s the one!”

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