“Absolute power corrupts absolutely” so said Lord Acton in 1887.
More than 130 years on, how can you possibly argue with those sentiments, in relation to the English Football Association.
Back in 2017, The excellent and sadly departed,Sports Minister Tracey Crouch warned FA Chair Greg Clarke and CEO Martin Glenn she was “ready to strip” the FA of all its public funding after its handling of the Mark Samson affair.
According to media reports at the time she found evidence submitted to a parliamentary inquiry about the FA’s handling of racism allegations against Sampson “shocking.”
People throughout the country were shocked at the eye-watering sums of money that were being continually received by a cash rich organisation – lest we forget the billions of pounds that it gets from the Premier League, the millions it receives from its involvement in Wembley Stadium – was getting £30 million of our money.
What it actually does with this money remains opaque. There is talk of “grass roots investment” but those vague platitudes amount to little or nothing when facts are studied.
Talksport did a wonderful expose on what it is like dealing with grass roots football in the real world, highlighting the plight of not just Leisure Leagues, but other providers too. How much grass roots investment has that equated to?
And that £30 million, has it gone to help two of their own clubs? Bury and Boltoon? The former, destroyed after 134 years, because of their issues with an owner that passed their “fit and proper persons test” only last year. The latter who have been unable to field a proper team, because they can’t pay their players.
A governing body that doesn’t govern, merely controls. Contrast that with their cricket counterparts, who are obviously not without fault, but do use their TV money to keep the 18 counties afloat.
The FA, in the same situation, merely begs the Premier League to throw what are effectively crumbs from the rich man’s table at the poor down below.
Despite year after year of austerity, the UK national debt is – according to August’s figures – now at £2.224 trillion. It has doubled since 2010. Estimates suggest that there are now 1.4 million people using foodbanks, and the child poverty crisis has been attacked by the UN.
Surely then the FA has seen a cut in its funding. Your money, was surely put to better use, in that time? Money that the FA doesn’t need. And could actually be of massive benefit to the country as a whole, particularly if Boris Johnson follows through with his promise to leave Europe, deal or no deal on 31st October.
No, not a bit of it. They’ve seen it increased to the levels it is now. £30 million, at the same time when parents are being asked to buy loo roll for schools in inner city areas, the boys at Wembley can make sure the free lunch is still tasty.
Who gave them this power over the People’s Game? Well, no one actually. They govern the game with no actual mandate to do.
Karl Marx once said: “Landlords, like all other men, love to reap where they never sowed.” And what have the FA done for your half a million quid a week this week? We say, stop the FA funding now. Take away the fiscal power, and you will end the corruption, and the game will be accessible for all, as it was meant to be.
We call on Nigel Adams to use his new role as Sports minister to do the right thing. The FA does not need your money. The country does. Make that the new government’s only sporting goal.Back to Blog