October 17th 2016
Fit For Purpose? Or a £30m A Year Waste Of Money

Today, the FA Chairman Greg Clarke and its Director of Governance and Regulation, Darren Bailey will appear in front of the culture, media and sport Select Committee at the Houses of Parliament.

The pair have been summoned to appear in the wake of the Sam Allardyce Affair (where they investigated  a man for alleged corruption in 2006, appointed that man as England Manager in 2016 and promptly had to sack him for alleged corruption after just 67 days in the job), but also face other questions over their role as self-imposed custodians of the game.

After the original probe in 06 after a Panorama programme, the FA appointed former Lord Stephens – the former Head of Scotland Yard, to conduct an investigation into transfers. During the year that followed he looked into a total of 352 player registrations and was unable to sign off on 17 of them.  These included three involving Allardyce and his son, Craig, an agent: Those of Ali al-Habsi, Tal Ben Haim and Blessing Kaku – they are, to this day, not signed off as being legitimate.

Despite knowing this, the FA appointed that man as their manager. Just days after, he was caught telling undercover reporters how to get around FA Rules.

This is just another classic case of the FA not being fit for purpose.

For all their talk of “Respect” programmes, and making players perform pointless handshakes before games, instances of violence at games at Grass Roots level are on the rise.

A survey of over 2000 of their own refs last year found a staggering 22% were verbally abused EVERY GAME, and 20% of them had been physically assaulted during the course of the season.

And people wonder why we at Leisure Leagues refuse to affiliate to them on a national level, despite their repeated threats against us for not doing so? They aren’t strong enough, don’t care about  either discipline or making tough decisions, and they won’t change.

This afternoon Clarke and Bailey, in addition to being asked why they allowed the Allardyce shambles to occur, will be asked why their investment in Grass Roots football has stalled. This is the most important charge of all they have to answer.

Let’s get this correct. They receive £30m of taxpayer’s money. That’s yours, mine and everyone else’s. Do you get value for money for it? Do you see any benefits for that? Instead there are countless instances all over the country where community groups are denied the use of new FA pitches that are supposed to be for community use (against rules laid down by Sport England) there are more still of them trying to frighten referees into only working for the FA (against employment laws) and that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Perhaps they are so out of touch with the community because they are not representative  of the public. Of the 123 members of the FA Council only six are women, four are from  a Black and Ethnic Minority background and there is one players’ representative and one fans’ representative. Only three former professional players sit on the council – and two of those (Gordon Taylor and Howard Wilkinson) are over 70. How are they supposed to make decisions for the benefit of the national sport of England in the 21st Century. The answer is they clearly cannot.

If today’s meeting is the first step to the FA being held to greater scrutiny and being made to be much more accountable for the £30m of your money they receive (which surely would be better going to hospitals and schools than yet another free lunch for some faceless grey suit at FA Headquarters?) then that can only be a good thing.

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