Robertson: It’s time for change

Robertson insists he was right to brand it the worst-run sport in
the country. He said change is now vital – but that although
legislation to force that change is an option it remains a last
resort. The minister was giving evidence to the culture, media and
sport committee in London, who are carrying out an inquiry into
football governance, and told MPs little had changed on the FA
despite the Burns review of six years ago. Robertson said: “The
fact is when I looked at the corporate governance operations in
sports, particularly the big five, it was noticeably worse than in
any other sport. “There are no independent non-executive directors
despite the Burns review. “Every single one of the directors is a
white male and late middle-aged and there is no one who has played
the game to any reasonable level and no women or anyone from the
ethnic communities. “For the 2018 World Cup bid £15million was
spent and we succeeded solely in garnering one extra vote other
than our own. “The chairman of the Football Foundation [Clive
Sherling] resigned in despair at the politicking going on around
the game. The evidence is pretty clear.” Sherling, a businessman
who was formerly chairman of the Football Licensing Authority,
stepped down earlier this year after just 18 months in the job. At
Tuesday’s evidence session, the MPs were told by a senior UEFA
figure that “turf wars” between the professional and amateur games
had reduced the FA to being one of the weakest national
associations in Europe. William Gaillard, adviser to UEFA president
Michel Platini, said the success of the Premier League and Football
League had overwhelmed the FA. Gaillard said: “There is no doubt
that turf wars have damaged English football and the FA is probably
in a weaker spot than any other FA in Europe – probably the result
of the overwhelming power of professional football especially as
expressed by the Premier League and Football League. “In other
countries there is a more balanced situation. In most other
countries the professional game has a minority position. “English
professional football has been enormously successful in producing
revenues and building up the game and we have to be grateful to the
Premier League and Football League for that. “At the same time this
has not resulted in a better situation for English football in
general and performances of the national team have not been
outstanding.” Gaillard recommended that England should adopt the
football model used in Holland – “an excellent grass-roots model” –
and that the FA should have a technical director. He added: “They
should have a full-time technical director – that’s what exists in
most other good educational models in Europe.” Meanwhile, committee
member Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, said the fact
neither the FA nor the Football League knew who owned Leeds was a
“fairly shambolic state of affairs”. The FA have sent a
clarification to the committee admitting they do not know the
identities of the people behind the three offshore trusts that own
the Championship club. Robertson agreed that the rules should be
changed to force transparency of ownership. The minister said:
“It’s patently absurd that people save up every week to go through
the turnstiles and cannot find out who owns the club. “It’s
perfectly reasonable for fans to expect to know who the owners are
of their football club and that’s something that should be
corrected sooner rather than later.”