The Competition And Markets Authority has come in for stinging criticism from two different sports sectors.
The authority, set up in 2014 to replace the Competition Commission, to eliminate anti-competitive practices in business, has ruled that they will not interfere when it comes to the role of recognised governing bodies exerting a monopoly over their own sport business.
In letters seen by us, the authority has stated that there is no monopoly in the multi-billion pound football industry, despite the FA trying to exert its monopoly status in the marketplace.
Leisure Leagues Andy Thorley, who obtained of the letters said: “We had clear evidence that the FA were exerting a draconian monopoly to try and ensure that there was no competition in the marketplace, in order to alert the Authority to the fact that the FA were operating their own small sided leagues directly in competition with ours, using public funds, in places where there was already complete provision for small sided football, yet ignoring areas where small sided football desperately needed to grow. They did it simply to target us as their main competitor in this area, and forced facilities to give them preferential rates so that they could try and undercut us on prices. It was the most obvious anti-competitive practice you could ever see”.
Mr Thorley continued: “We also provided evidence of facilities who had been instructed not to supply their pitches to us, even though those facilities would get more money from us and we would get more people playing sport, simply because the FA was instructing them not to. All too often this resulted in facilities lying empty with the FA justifying their stance saying that only organisations that paid money to the FA would be allowed to use sports facilities in the UK. This has gone explicitly against Government advice, and has resulted in less people playing sport and getting fit”.
The competition commission have also been quiet over the recent gymnastics ruling and the monopoly British Gymnastics appears to have over that sport.
Mr Thorley continued: “The only monopolies left in the UK today are those in the sporting sector. Sports such as football, rugby and gymnastics are multi-million pound industries generating enormous profits, and currently Sport England appear to be colluding with their favoured governing bodies to ensure that in each sector the monopoly remains. The fact that Sport England is also dishing out taxpayers money to these monopolies is outrageous. The Competition Commission are simply turning a blind eye to all this”.
The authority, in response, said that football was not a big enough industry to warrant them looking into the matter.
Mr Thorley said: “What an extraordinary statement. It is time the Government stopped funding quangos like the CMA and Sport England, and let the marketplace start working properly. There can no longer be any justification for all these quangos scratching each other’s backs in order to receive more taxpayers money, simply to look after each other”.
“The fact that the Authority might investigate and adjudicate on tiny industries in other market sectors, which they have in the past, but completely ignore enormous financial industries such as football or gymnastics or rugby, must call into question whether or not they are fit for purpose and certainly whether or not they should still be receiving public funding in order to go about their business”.
The Competition And Markets Authority were unavailable for comment.
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