English FA: Clubs should open up finances to fans
The head of the English Football Association told a
parliamentary inquiry on Tuesday it was ”unacceptable” for clubs
not to disclose full information about their finances and ownership
Manchester United fans are unhappy about the lack of
transparency from the owning Glazer family about how they paid off
around 220 million pounds ($342 million) of high-interest debt used
to fund their leveraged 2005 takeover.
United Chief Executive David Gill told an earlier session of a
British parliamentary hearing into English football that the club
would not ”open a dialogue” with fans ”at war with the
But David Bernstein, the chairman of the FA, told Tuesday’s
session of the inquiry that such a stance was unacceptable.
”Supporters are entitled to full information from their clubs
and proper dialogue about ownership … and finances,” Bernstein
said. ”They are the key stakeholders and there should be a free
flow of information between clubs and supporters – anything less is
Second-tier club Leeds has also refused to name its financial
backers, who have rescued a club that came to the brink of collapse
after overspending to reach the Champions League semifinals in
”I think supporters should know who owns all clubs,” Bernstein
said when asked about Leeds.
The existing rules don’t allow the FA to be transparent about
the ownership of Premier League or Football League clubs.
But Bernstein and FA General Secretary Alex Horne, who have both
been appointed in the last year, will meet both those bodies to
discuss the situation
Horne said they want to ”reset the architecture.”
Discussing debt at clubs, Bernstein said English football could
benefit from the wider implementation of UEFA’s financial fair play
rules, which are designed to curb clubs’ spending on players.
Clubs wanting to play in the UEFA competitions are required to
break even starting in the 2011-12 season. Persistent loss-makers
can first be barred from the 2014-15 Champions League or Europa
”I would like to see financial fair play potentially extended
across the rest of the Premier League and possibly the Football
League as well,” Bernstein said.
The inquiry also heard from the Scottish Football Association,
whose chief executive Stewart Regan discussed the problem of
violence between the Old Firm clubs a day before meeting with
Celtic, Rangers, the Scottish government and police.
The groups also met this month following violence at an
ill-tempered Scottish Cup fifth-round replay, which Celtic won
But Regan told legislators that it will take many years to
eradicate sectarianism from the Glasgow derby.
”It requires the need to start at school level and look at
education,” he said. ”It’s a big issue, it’s one that’s been
around again for 100 years or more, and we’re not going to solve it