13th December 2016

Draft Bill being prepared to reform the Football Association

Damian Collins MP, Chair of the Culture Media and Sport (CMS) Select Committee of the UK Parliament, is working on a draft Bill to reform England’s Football Association (FA), after five former FA executives wrote to him urging reform. Collins was a member of the CMS Select Committee that produced a report in 2011 which urged the FA to reform itself; and a follow-up report in 2013 which found that the ‘radical’ reform measures proposed by the FA did not go far enough.

‘The Committee is working with the parliamentary authorities to prepare a draft Bill to deliver the necessary reform to the structure of the FA’, wrote Collins in response to the concerns raised by the executives (PDF below). ‘We will also ask the backbench business committee if time can be secured for a debate in the House of Commons calling for a vote of no confidence in the FA, and for legislation to deliver the change it needs. We will also be writing to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport asking for the government’s support in this matter. I will write to advise you, as soon as possible, on the timings for the publication of the Bill and the debate.’

The five former FA executives are based around concerns that the structure of English football is geared towards ensuring financial advantages for the FA Premier League at the expense of the rest of English football. ‘The Professional Game stakeholders from the English Football League to the players, managers and referees are dominated by the English Premier League (EPL) due to their financial might and the way financial contributions are wielded at every turn to assert beneficial positions for the EPL’, they write (PDF below). ‘The EFL’s strategy unduly influences the Championship Clubs eager to access EPL financial advantages. This affects the League 1 and 2 clubs adversely, which in turn knocks on to the National League and right through the football pyramid.’

‘When the EPL was created back in 1992, The FA of the day allowed it to opt out of FA oversight on most issues, and EFL representatives regularly use their position on The FA Board to maintain this position’, reads the letter. ‘Twenty clubs are in receipt of billions whilst The FA is under threat of losing millions which it gives wholly to grassroots football. To make matters worse, under the bizarre funding formula of The FA, not only does The FA not receive any of the EPL billions, it is compelled to contribute tens of millions to the EPL, also money which could go to the grassroots of the game.’

The letter was written by David Bernstein, a former Independent FA Chairman; David Davies, a former FA Executive Director; Greg Dyke, a former Independent FA Chairman; Alex Horne, a former FA Chief Executive Officer; and David Triesman, a former Independent FA Chairman. ‘The FA has neither the modernity of approach nor independence required to counter the EPL juggernaut, or to modernise its own governance’, continues the letter. ‘It does not appear to be able to exercise the regulatory control of the sport common to other national sport governing bodies. Too often The FA Board, because of its lack of independence, takes its decisions on the basis of decisions of the organisations which send their representatives to The FA Board. It is therefore neither an independent board nor an independent regulator.’

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