The events of the past 48 hours in the football world have re-affirmed the
way football is managed and run in this country. Firstly, we have the
application of the Bosman ruling into the English game - any player aged
24 or over can now move on a free transfer in this country as well as
abroad. Secondly, the selling of Ferdinand by Newcastle to Spurs for
financial reasons. Thirdly, those lucrative pre-season tournaments and
friendlies. In all these stories there is one common factor - money. The
game in this country is increasingly being run by financiers and businessmen
rather than by managers and players. There is only place to lay the
blame for this - the FA.
The full effect of the Bosman ruling will now be felt by many clubs. It
was always going to bad for small clubs but now it is disastrous. The
Bosman ruling need not have been applied in this country. There was an
honest system of transfer that worked well and allowed unsettled players
to move. Clubs will always need to buy players to cover weaknesses in
their own team. Now any player over 24 and is no longer under contract
can go for nothing. Again I blame the FA.
Football is now big business. When the Premiership was created a money
making environment was created. Sadly for the Football League clubs, the
FA Premiership has not made sufficient provision for lower league sides.
There is lots of talk about doing things to help the small clubs but has
any of it been put into practice? Guess what - I blame the FA.
Pre-season friendlies are a necessity for football clubs. But the amount
of games played in a short time frame is interesting. You can guarentee
that come the middle of August managers and players will be bemoaning the
fixture overload. To play twice in a weekend is deemed fine in pre-season
but twice a week in August is not. Again money talks. Lucrative
pre-season tournaments again keep the bank balance happy in the warm
summer sunshine. The grinding out of a result on a cold winter afternoon
is obviously not as attractive even if you do get paid more than most
people earn in a year. I blame the greed of the clubs and players.
We have, therefore, a gloomy future in prospect. If the current state of
affairs continues then we will see several clubs going bankrupt in the
coming season. The FA has to act now to preserve the future of the
game. I think there are a number of measures and attitudes that should
be adopted to improve the all round concept of the sport. There is
enough money in the system it is just in the wrong places. There is
enough wisdom around it is just ignored. The FA has to make changes
before it is too late and we are left with just a handful clubs. I
suggest the following as possible improvements that could be made to the
game in this country.
1) The Premiership clubs should pay for professional, full time referees
in all the divisions. A pool of 50 at around £15,000 a year would only
cost each club around £40,000 a year. This would hopefully improve
standards in all the divisions.
2) Greater division of money. At the moment the people at the FA are
paying themselves and the top clubs too much. Provision needs to be made
for the smaller clubs, especially as transfer income is reduced under the
Bosman ruling. The FA has to look at necessities as well as at success.
3) The FA has to stand up to the likes of Man Utd and Liverpool and not
be bullied into submission. These clubs pressure the FA under the threat
of setting up an exclusive five or six club league. The FA should tell
them where to go and refuse to sanction the creation of such a league -
after all, they run the sport.
4) The FA should stop thinking about short-term profit
and instead think how can we best serve ALL levels of football in this
country. In effect they should not always look for the best financial
deal but the most supportive deal.
5) Make the proposed feeder club system an illegal part of the game.
Such a move would prevent clubs monopolising the market for up-and-coming
6) Listen to the fans. Most people don't support Man Utd or Liverpool.
Rather, with amazing loyalty, they support clubs like Watford, Grimsby and
Hartlepool. The FA would do well to hear what these FANS have to say.
Not what the chairman of some big club suggests.
I am sure such plans are not without fault but I think they would be a
start. Football has undergone a remarkable revolution in the past few
years and some of it has been for the good. However the FA is failing to
secure the long term future of the sport in this country. It is on the
edge of being, if it hasn't already become, an elitist establishment for a lucky few.
The FA and the FA alone can control the future of the game in this
country. It is time to stop being greedy and think about the future.