Examination of Witnesses (Question Numbers
Richard Bevan, Steve Coppell and Martin O'Neill OBE
22 March 2011
Q400 Chair: For the second
part of this morning's session, can I welcome Richard Bevan, the
Chief Executive of the League Managers Association, with Martin
O'Neill and Steve Coppell? Your organisation represents managers
from the Premier League and then goes all the way down to League
2. Can you just set out what you see as the main issues affecting
them and to what extent they differ between the top and the bottom
of the pyramid?
Richard Bevan: Yes, on the main
issues affecting the managers, the LMA's history goes back to
1919. It used to be the League Secretaries and League Managers
Association. The LMA was formally launched in 1992. I think probably
the biggest change since 1992 will simply be employment issues.
That is the key one. The average tenure of the job back in 1992
was about three and a half years. It is now sitting at 14, 15
monthsI think I am about to lose a manager in the next
five minutes as well. But also in the Football League last season,
the average tenure of a sacked manager was around about 10 months.
I think a very worrying stat for the game, which is reflective
of the game and worrying for all the stakeholders, is that there
are about 46 clubs at the moment that have a manager that has
been in place for less than 11 months. If you take the manager
being the most important person at the club, as the one that gets
the sack most regularly when things go wrong, then you have to
presume that is very bad news for the game. Certainly in a business
corporate environment, politics and any other environment, that
would be something that you would have to address fairly quickly
at the top.
Secondly, not particularly sexy issues but very
important issues, many of our managers don't get private healthcare,
so in the LMA we recently set up a health trust. We now have 60
managers in that. If you can imagine getting the sack every 12
months and you are out of work for, on average, 16 months, you
have to make sure that there is healthcare as well as other basic
needs. So the LMA is very much a family from that perspective.
Thirdly, I think very importantly, what we are
trying to change is our ability to collectively take the views
of our members and to lobby both at home and internationally across
Europe. We have 91 managers in 30-odd countries. I think it is
somewhat ironic that today in UEFA they are voting on new members
of the UEFA executive. There are 13 nominees for seven places,
and out of those 13 nominees, there are five ex-players that have
been nominated by different countries around Europe by different
FAs. The FA has never nominated any ex-player, nor to my knowledge
has it ever had an ex-player on the board. Even Trevor Brooking
isn't on the board of the FA. I think what you need, like Mr Platini
did representing France, you need to make sure that you have young,
energetic people, not people, with all respect, in their 70s joining
the UEFA executive. So over a period of 10 years, or 15 years,
we can try to ensure that we get to a much better position, that
we can help influence the game in a better way. Perhaps taking
our stock at the moment, the Under-21 Championships, we went in
for that alongside Wales, Bulgaria and a couple of other countries
and it was recently awarded to Israel, so that probably reflects
where we are at.
Lastly, we are in regular communication now
with coaches across Europe. We are setting up a number of meetings
and think-tanks and we do intend to be proactive. In many ways,
like it or not, with some stakeholders, the LMA, the players and
perhaps the supporters as well are probably the best policemen
in the game at the moment.
Q401 Chair: Can I come
back to the first point you made about the ever-diminishing average
tenure of a football manager? To what do you attribute that and
is there anything you can do about it?
There are a number of things that I attribute it to, mainly the
world we live in, the lack of managing expectations at a certain
number of clubs, the 24/7, the pressure, the financial issues
as well, the reward for getting into the Premier League are now
reportedly in the region of £90 million. Equally, if you
get relegation or even going out of the league, the pressures
will be different, and they are exaggerated by the very nature
that we are living in a 24/7 media world and the internet, Twitter
and everything else.
In terms of can we do anything about it, yes, we
can, short, medium and long term. Short term we are pushing for
standard contracts. We are encouraging our managers to have the
objectives of the club very much written in writing, "What
are we looking to achieve in three months, six months, 12 months?"
and helping to manage those expectations, and very importantly,
the LMA is very much moving into the role of developing training,
coaching and management education. We are moving into the National
Football Centre in July next year, and along with three business
schools, we intend to build upon the leadership management. We
have recently been working with companies, major plcs in the country
such as Castrol, Barclays, Jaguar and a number of other companies,
because we are looking to bring that leadership model in, because
there are probably three aspects of being a football manager in
what I have learnt in the last three years since I've joined:
leadership, management and coaching. The FA are very much delivering
the coaching and education and we are going to be delivering the
management and the leadership training.
The total spend in football is embarrassing for the
game. Less than £750,000 is spent on the development of our
technical staffthat includes refereesin terms of
technical training. We did a recent report with the Warwick Business
School on the film industry, the comparison between the film industry
and football. Very similar, £3 billion turnoverthe
entertainers, if you likeand in the film industry, they
spend around about 5%, 6% of their turnover on training of their
technical staff, which is fantastic, because that is why our British
technicians are wanted all around the world, and that is why we
are winning Oscars. So hopefully if you were to look at the LMA
in five years' time, you will see it is very much focused on the
delivery of coaching and management. I think if we achieve anything
like the goals we have set ourselves, then we will improve longevity,
because we will prepare our managers better.
Q402 Mr Sanders: Can
I ask Steve and Martin your experience of management? Is it becoming
harder for clubs to bridge the gap between the Championship and
the Premier League?
I would say most definitely without the input of a benevolent
millionaire who would invest, as we spoke before, the massive
sums of money. In my experience at my club with Sir John Madejski,
at Reading in particular we tried to bridge that gulf, and even
though he is a wealthy man, his ideal all along was the club should
sustain itself, which it can do very successfully at one level,
but when you get to the Premiership now, the Premiership is without
doubt a power league. You can more or less forecast who is going
to finish in what position at the start of any one season, based
on the power reference of each club within that league. There
are always one or two exceptions, but that cannot be sustained
without the finances involved. So to answer your question, I would
say most definitely it is very, very difficult to go beyond the
one or possibly two seasons' success without the input of substantial
Q403 Mr Sanders: Can
I ask, Martin, is it possible to challenge for a Champions League
place on a regular basis without a very significant financial
Martin O'Neill: On a regular basis,
I would probably very much doubt that. I think statistically it
has been proved that only Everton and Tottenham Hotspur obviously
have broken into that top four in the last seven or eight years.
I think it is the dream and I think the dreams are always worth
pursuing. I suppose from the country where I was born that is
what we lived on most of the time. So, yes, I think it would be
very, very difficult, as you mentioned, on a regular basis. However,
Tottenham Hotspur are making a terrific effort at the moment.
First of all, they have done it, and I think it has been a magnificent
achievement, not only in getting there, but what they have done
in their first season in the Champions League, now contesting
the quarter-final. So for teams of that ilk, and I am talking
about perhaps maybe tradition, history, crowd support, yes, I
still believeTottenham have shown the way recently, Everton
did it before thatthat it is possible. But on a regular
basis without that input, that financial input, it is difficult.
Q404 Mr Sanders: Can
we ask why you left Aston Villa?
Martin O'Neill: You can, and I
would not answer that, primarily because there is a tribunal coming
up in the next month or two and I am not at liberty today to speak
about that, but I appreciate you asking me the question and asking
about my wellbeing.
Q405 Mr Sanders: In general
terms, is there a connection though to the difficulties and the
competition for wanting to achieve a top four position and where
you are today?
You make a very, very good point. I think that Richard touched
on it. The managing of the expectation iswell, let me start
by saying that the world in which we live in now seems to beI
only say seems to beinstancy. We are looking for instant
success and because we have instant access to things, I think
the other seems to want to follow, or people feel, if it is there
for you, you are capable of doing it. What I am saying is that
you set out with a number of ambitions, a number of goals, you
try to achieve those and if you have a little bit of a success
early on, then people are looking for more, they are looking for
more. I think that that has been the difficulty in the game. I
am not saying that it didn't exist some years ago, of course it
did, but with the financial situation being so, so strong now,
the possibility of failure in the Premiership, the possibility
of relegation, then the thoughts of getting into the Champions
League, it has reached a zenith.
In my 20 years of management, I have seen a lot of
positive changes in the game. It is still a wonderful, wonderful
game, and, for instance, if you look at the stadium improvements,
if you look at the racism that we were trying eradicate, all great
news. Then I often think to myself, "Well, has the game changed
at all?" and I will bring you back to just a little story.
About 31 years ago, I sat in a dressing room in the City Ground,
Nottingham Forest, as a player, and we were part of a very, very
successful team, the team was going very well indeed. In stomped
a colourful megalomaniac, who had obviously had a bit of an issue
that morning with something or someone. At that stage, he was
the most successful manager in the country. He had just won the
European Cup, and within a couple of months he was about to win
another European Cup, and he stomped into the dressing roomnow
Brian Clough could stomp into any dressing room and he could be
irked by anything, but obviously he was chuntering about his board.
They had upset him that morning, I don't know, perhaps because
they hadn't given him something that he had felt was his due,
but he almost read the situation, because there was a number of
us who were reaching that age where we were thinking about management,
certainly thinking about coaching, and I think he had almost a
telegnostic feel about it, because he said, "If any of you
lads are thinking about management, don't". He said, "The
only inevitability about this job is you'll get the sack."
I wonder whether anything has changed over that 31-year
period. Certainly statistically, as Richard talks about, it wasn't
as severe, managers were getting longer in those days, although
still getting sacked, but it has reached a level now where I think
managing is still a terrific job but it has become exceptionally
Q406 Mr Sanders: Is it
more difficult to manage expectation than it is to manage a football
team? I wonder whether, Richard, I could ask you, what support
you give to managers in order to help them manage expectation.
Richard Bevan: That is a very
good question. Managing downwards and managing upwards are of
equal importance, and I think probably the traditional Chairman
in football is going. Issues have arisen in negotiating over 100-odd
compromise agreements in the last 12 months or so, because we
also represent a lot of coaches, we have lost about 36 managers
and about 48 coaches so far this season. One of the problems is
who in the football club am I ultimately responsible to? There
seems to be in a lot of clubs, particularly in the Football League,
two or three directors that have investment in the club, they
are having a say in the club, that want to play in a different
way and so I think that is very hard for managers. In terms of
what we are doing about it, particularly when managers are out
of work, we have the Warwick Business School football management
course. We are working on 16 three-day modules of leadership and
management, and media training is in that. Also, we monitor media
interviews of our managers and we help them, and some have a greater
need than others and some have a bigger drive, but what I find
working for these guys, is that there is a massive appetite for
learning. There are 100,000 matches of experience between the
members. That is a lot of knowledge, a lot of passion and I want
to try and harness that.
I think you talked earlier about Europe, and
we looked at Europe, we looked at the way Holland works, we looked
at the way Germany works and the one thing that is very clearto
me, anywayabout Europe is there are very few turf wars
in those countries. They work together. Their strategy is more
unified and I think proper governance, correct and successful
governance, is all about participation of the stakeholders in
making the right decisions, but getting them to embrace those
decisions and that doesn't happen, if at all.
Q407 Paul Farrelly: We
have heard from Steve about John Madejski at Reading, but Martin,
can I just come back to Aston Villa? I can understand the difficulty
of managing conflicting objectives, such as, "We expect the
team to do this, but we are only going to do this and we are only
going to give you this" and some people might want to take
a stand and say, "I cannot fulfil that objective for you".
But if you are looking at the Premier League and below in the
round, take the perspective of just up the M6 from Aston Villa,
from my club, Stoke City, for the likes of Stokes City it is an
absolutely good thing for people like Randy Lerner to pull the
horns in and not join the splurge, just as it would be for John
Madejski not to join the splurge. Because if it is unsustainable,
the way all the decisions on transfers and paying people's wages
filter down, it affects the financial viability of all the clubs
below, so isn't it a good thing that the horns were pulled in
in terms of not going on any more spending sprees?
Richard Bevan: Can I answer that
question, because there is a Premier League managers arbitration
and if Martin answers that question he could conflict himself
out for what is going to be an important tribunal? So I don't
think you can ask questions that relate to Aston Villa because
Q408 Paul Farrelly: Let
me phrase it generally: is it generally a good thing that unsustainable
spending sprees do not happen?
I think that Mr Watmore touched on this, and he talked about the
top clubs in the Premiership, where they have been on massive
spending sprees, and therefore other teams, to attempt to catch
up, proportionately they have to spend some money. Now, I accept
your point entirely. I believe that football clubswas it
Deloitte that mentioned something about the 65% wages to turnover?
I think that is something that clubs should aim for and attempt
to go for, and I do agree in principle that you can only deal
with what you are able to bring in, and if you cannot compete
against Manchester United and you cannot compete against Chelsea,
it doesn't stop you attempting to do so, but then I think then
that you have to get some sort offor want of a better wordreality
check. But that doesn't exist in the Premiership, and you have
just mentioned Stoke City. Tony has done a wonderful job there,
absolutely wonderful job. The day that they made it into the Premiership
was a fantastic day for Stoke, but Stoke believe that they belong
there, even though they hadn't been there for quite some time,
and now, last year, when they finished I think about 10th in the
league, it was terrific. This year, would 11th be good enough
for Stoke City this year? I wonder. I will throw it back to you.
Paul Farrelly: We might come on to that
in a moment.
Steve Coppell: Can I just add
a little bit there? You cannot compete with the big clubs financially,
so you try and compete at a different level, which is the nurturing
and development of talent. Now, again, the big clubs can spend
more money, but you can provide a more caring atmosphere with
a route through to progress. I think that is the attraction of
the clubs who are trying to compete against the mega-giants. It
is the only way you can sustain it and perhaps, in the future,
if we have more home-grown players demanding to be in the squads,
which I think is a fine development for English football and would
protect our national team to some extent in the future, I think
that is the way forward.
Certainly in the Football League, I think there is only one club
that has just posted a profit, which is Swansea. There are 653
clubs in 53 leagues across Europe and over 50% are losing money.
So certainly, whether it is under a licence or whether it is a
different type of UEFA financial play rule that is reflected down
the leagues, we would very much like to see the ability of clubs
managing cost controls to a greater extent.
Q409 Alan Keen: Just
a small question about the LMA. I am mindful of what the FA are
trying to achieve, and that is to professionalise, not just at
the club managers' level but coaching and further down so that
we can bring people up through the game. But there is one problem,
sometimes it is managers who sack coaches. A new manager goes
into the club and they quickly get rid of three or four coaches
and take it further down to bring in people that he works well
with. I can understand that. Martin is known to have worked with
a team of coaches, but how has the LMA approached it to sort of
deal with that? Are you trying to aim at getting a level within
a club where they would be looked upon as permanent coaches, say
with the under-17s and others, so that a new manager coming in
is free to bring his own coaches in at the level for the first
team coaching and other assistant coaching, maybe for the reserve
sides, so that that coherence of tactics and everything else is
okay, but at least the other people in the club below that level
are fairly safe to pursue their career for five or six years or
indefinitely, as it were?
Certainly in 1992, when Graham Taylor, Howard Wilkinson, Lawrie
McMenemy and a couple of others formed the LMA, it was very much
because there were issues between coach and manager, whereas in
recent years, it has gone the other way. We are representing and
have representedemployment issues in particularover
40-odd coaches so far this season, and those coaches have been
represented because of the request of the manager. Certainly there
are some cases where managers will take their coaches with them.
In terms of managing the conflict, I think there is conflict in
every walk of life and it is how you embrace it, so if we were
dealing with a manager and a coach in the same club, where there
was a breachI have not had to do that in three yearswe
would use separate legal advisors, as with the PGA, if they were
dealing with golfer on golfer.
I think you would find as well most clubs within their academy
system have fairly stable environments. I think they were designed
to not be affected by the incomings of a new manager, so the development
of young players is very much insulated from who is managing the
club. It is not a separate entity, but it does have a special
Q410 Alan Keen: At what
level would you go to? Academy would be the obvious level that
you want to perpetuate for years. In my own team, Middlesbrough,
they set a
Yes, development, you'd go to development level, I think. It is
the prerogative of any owner or manager to employ his inner sanctum
staff: people, like any relationship, you have to trust, and that
trust is usually developed over time.
Q411 Alan Keen: Even
with physio, would the new manager want to bring his own physio
in, for instance?
Martin O'Neill: That is possible.
I take your point, in principle as much as anything else. Any
new manager who is stepping into a football team and will concern
himself immediately with what the youth team is doing is deluding
himself. He should take himself off to the nearest insanity place,
because he is not. He is dealing with football. He is dealing
with football first team issues. That is what his job consists
of. It consists of that immediately. If he gets the time, if he
gets, as they have often talked about, these five-year plansI
have never seen one myselfwhere someone steps in and has
time to look and see what is happening at youth team level, he
might get an opportunity to have a look at the youth team within
six or seven weeks of coming into the football club and then it
is up to him to take as much interest or as little interest as
Steve has made the point that they are usually
almost separate entities and chairmen like them to be separate
entities, because the chances are if the manager is going, it
would be because of first team results, obviously. Yes, a manager
will take in some of his staff, but surely that is something that
the club must be thinking about when they are about to sack the
manager in the first place.
Q412 Dr Coffey: Mr Coppell
and Mr O'Neill, you have both been exceptionally distinguished
players and successful managers, are you concerned that the influx
of foreign managers is restricting the opportunities for English
or UK managers?
Personally, I am. As an English coach, I feel to a certain extent
offended that we don't have an English manager of the national
Dr Coffey: That was going to be my next
Steve Coppell: As you know, I
think the LMA at the moment are working with initiatives to try
and educate our coaches and managers to be better at their craft
so that in the future that won't be an attractive option. The
same with our players; to have so few of our players playing every
week, every Saturday in the Premier League I think is something
that we should be concerned about as regards the overall picture
of the success of the national team. I just think it is wrong.
We should have more protection within our game for talented people.
The responsibility is with the clubs to produce the best home-grown
players they can. It is their responsibility, without doubt, not
to cherry-pick around the world and invite those players to come
and take advantage of the finance that has been generated within
our game. Similarly, with the managers and coaches, there should
be a more defined route of progress, educational process, which
again the LMA are taking a lead on, so that when an owner of a
club, whether he be English or foreign, looks at the contenders
out there to run his club, he will say, "Well, the English
system is the best system, they give the best education and time
has shown they produce the best results".
Can I give two important facts before I pass it on to Martin?
One, there's only nine overseas managers in the 92 clubs. It is
a misconception there is a lot, but obviously in the same way
that the best players in the world want to come and play in the
Premier League, so do the best coaches and the best managers.
In terms of having an Englishman as our English manager, there
are about 60 Englishmen managing in the 92 clubs, and I come back
to the training point I made earlier: what are the FA doing in
terms of vision and strategy for four, five, 10 years ahead, and
are they saying, "Are we identifying the talent? What are
we doing to help train those individuals to improve, so we end
up with a dozen or so candidates to become the next England manager?"
My view was concurring with Steve's, but having listened now to
Richard and those statistics, I think I will keep quiet.
Q413 Dr Coffey: I was
going to ask, do you think the FA should restrict the manager
to being a UK national, but I think there seems be consent that
that is true.
I think the qualification rules for the national team now should
apply to the manager as well, which doesn't restrict foreign managers
but it makes it more difficult.
We have about 10 managers, who are managers of other national
teams as well, Finland, Panama, Uganda, India.
Dr Coffey: Tony Adams, Azerbaijan.
Richard Bevan: Yes, Thailand,
and 90-odd guys working abroad, so as we train and develop our
young coaches, they will go abroad to get experience.
Q414 Dr Coffey: From
what I have taken from what you have suggested, the LMA is taking
the leading role in educating managers, but should there be more
mandatory levels of UEFA licensing, not just in the Premier League,
but up and down our leagues?
If you look at the number of UEFA qualified coaches in this country,
it is around about 2,700. If you compare that to Germany, it is
32,000, to Spain it is 29,000 and Italy is about 27,000. But I
think what the National Football Centre will bring is a focus
on quality, not quantity, and as well as the AB and the pro licences.
We have about 140, 150 coaches with the pro licence; the figure
in other countries in Europe is over 1,000. I think the key for
a coach, a young coach, and a manager is that there needs to be
a clear pathway. If you go to Holland and you want to become a
coach or a manager, there is a very clear pathway of how you go
up the ladder. If you have not played the game or if you come
out of the game early and you want to become a coach, there hasn't
been that clear pathway. Although we are leading the way, we are
not trying to take control of coach and education management,
what we are trying to do is to work in partnership with FA learning
in order to ensure that the people we represent get a broader
cross-section of training. In League 2, for example, it is my
opinion that you need to probably understand the commerciality
of the club if you want to survive longer than 12 months. You
need to understand what the ambitions of the Chairman are, you
need to understand the budgets and the cash flows and maybe even
read a balance sheet.
Q415 Ms Bagshawe: I just
want to come in on a little supplementary to Mr Coppell's answer
there. You said that it is the responsibility of the clubs to
develop players for the national team and that it is a great shame
that we have so few English players playing in the Premier League.
Would you support some kind of quota for English players per team
in the league?
Steve Coppell: Yes, I would. I
would, to protect our own talent and to put more emphasis on clubs
to produce the talent that will play for England in the future.
Again, it is a pathway, as Richard was saying there. If you sign
for a big club now, you know that the big club, unless you are
the top of the tree, are going to buy somebody from somewhere
around the world, and that makes our league game more attractive.
If you go anywhere in the world, they will be watching Premier
League on the television in the afternoon, so it is that dilemma.
But as somebody who played for his country and loves the England
team, I want the England team to almost run parallel with the
success of the leagues. Is it possible? I don't know, but I think
we can just move a little bit more the balance away from the league
itself towards a national team.
Q416 Ms Bagshawe: What
about you other two gentlemen, quickly?
Martin O'Neill: I think it would
improve Mr Capello's choice of a game on a Saturday afternoon
anyway, if he is getting to see more English players playing in
Richard Bevan: Personally, I am
less about quotas, less about restrictions. I am more about better
governance, better people leading our game, a more unified approach,
an agreed strategy, and if we had those, we wouldn't have to worry
Q417 Philip Davies: Just
pursuing this theme, shouldn't it be the free market and it all
be done on merit, and presumably given that it is such a results-orientated
business, if the best players are English, they will get in the
team; if they are not, they will not get in the team? Do you not
think that if you had this kind oflaudable though it isaim
to force clubs to develop more English talent, would that not
in itself damage the Premier League in the sense that one of the
reasons presumably why there is so much money in the Premier League
is because of all these stars come from around the world to play
in it? That is the thing that gives it the kudos, why it is so
important. Would it not damage the league itself to do that?
Richard Bevan: I think on that
particular point, you only have to go to the top of the tree in
the FA, and what you need is you have to first of all identify
players, identify the talent. Secondly, you have to make sure
they have enough hours to be trained. Thirdly, you have to make
sure that the coaches that are coaching them are the best in Europe,
and the point where you do need assistance, which is why I am
sure the Premier League have gone for their 25-man squad rule,
and the use of a minimum of eight players locally, I think that
has to do with making sure that the Premier League and the FA
have the ability toI have just forgotten the thread. The
point I was making, the last point, is that you must create opportunities.
I think the Premier League and the Football League, it is about
opportunities for our domestic players, that is key.
Steve Coppell: If the purpose
of the English game was to provide the best and most exciting
league throughout the world, I think you could say that we have
been fairly successful, but if the purpose of the English game
was also in combination to make a very competitive England team,
which every two years would make us very happy, rather than making
us reasonably unhappy, then we have been unsuccessful. We need
to try and combine the two, and I don't even know whether it is
possible, but I think we can make a better fist of it than we
are at the moment. Again, it is all down to that responsibility
of clubs and the Premier League to a certain extent to maybe shift
a little bit of power towards the national game.
Q418 Philip Davies: Can
I ask about the qualifications issue for football managers, because
every so often it seems there is a controversy. The last oneAlan
will know more about this than methe one that springs to
my mind, I think, was Gareth Southgate, who I think had been appointed
as manager of Middlesbrough and he hadn't gone through all of
his coaching qualifications and all the rest of it. Where do you
stand on that? Just because somebody does not have a particular
qualification does not surely mean that they are not going to
be any good at managing a football club, does it?
Richard Bevan: I think if you
are going to become a surgeon, you wouldn't expect a surgeon not
to have the right qualifications.
Q419 Philip Davies: It
is the same parallel?
Richard Bevan: I think it is a
good example, yes. If you take Europe, we are the only country
in Europe that doesn't have mandatory qualifications, although
the Premier League do now, and the Football League have been moving
very closely towards that. In Gareth Southgate's case, it was
also because Steve McClaren was taken by the FA to become the
manager of England, and they wanted to promote him through. There
have been four or five occasions. What the Premier League are
doing is saying that as long as the manager is going through his
qualifications, they do on occasions and have made about five
or six exceptions.
Q420 Philip Davies: My
reading of the situation is that somebody like Martin O'Neill
has been a tremendously successful football manager, not because
of his coaching qualificationsif you do not mind me saying
sobut because of your ability to inspire the people that
play in the club, your man management skills. It always strikes
me, as an observer, that the ability to manage people and to inspire
them to play better and to fulfil their potential is a far more
important asset in being a successful football manager than necessarily
the coaching qualifications that you have. So surely somebody
who is a great man manager, somebody who inspires people, who
might not have all of the coaching qualifications, I put it to
you would prove ultimately to be a more successful manager than
somebody who cannot inspire the players in the same way but has
all the coaching qualifications.
I think the point you are making is a good one. At the same time
though, being a successful manager is about leadership, management
and coaching: can you teach leaders to be better leaders, can
you teach managers to be better managers? Of course you can, and
in business, if you were going to be looking at any of the plcs,
do they train their senior team, their managers? Yes, they do.
So you want to provide the opportunity for a coach to have as
many qualifications, to have as much learning as possible to survive
and be as successful as he can as an individual.
You need to have qualifications. You can't just say, "Open
house, who do we want to be manager next week?" I think it
is a requirement of the trade that you do have some basic knowledge
of coaching techniques. As you say, it is all about man management.
I am not sure whether Fergie has all his coaching badges, but
you look at the success he has had down to man management. Gareth
Southgate had spent 15 years in the industry as a player. It is
a natural progression. He wasn't a rookie by any means. He had
been in many dressing rooms with many top managers and obviously
learnt an awful lot from them. So I would say qualifications,
yes, but it shouldn't not allow people with man management abilities
to be able to do the job.
Richard Bevan: There is also a
big appetite among our members. We recently had the Royal Marines
working on a particular course with our guys, there were about
40 members. We run coaching clinics and, in my time, there have
never been fewer than 70 managers and coaches turning up on one
particular day. There is a big appetite for learning as well.
Philip Davies: Martin, I prayed you in
Martin O'Neill: No, I am so pleased
you mentioned that. I am beginning to agree with you. I have always
been a bit sceptical aboutRichard won't like me for saying
thisthe licence, the procedure you go through. I do accept
it. I accept because, again, you have to do something about it.
It might be the worst analogy in the world, but it might be a
bit like getting a driving licence, you have to pass the test
at some stage or another. Will that be how you drive in the next
two or three years? Well, if it is anything to do with my driving,
it certainly wouldn't be, but I think that there are certain things
that you can learn during these courses. I must admit, I don't
have my licence myself at this minute, and hopefully it won't
debar me from going back into the Premiership. I will certainly
do it, but I will do it because I want to do it. I want to do
it, because there are things that I can learn from it. Now, I
don't for one minute suggest that when I take a coaching course
just for the purpose of passing an examit will give me
that experience, of course, but will that be any good to me in
the heat of the moment when I am having to make a decision as
to whether a game can be won? I am not so sure. Maybe that is
just experience, but I do accept the point. I didn't always think
this, but I am coming round more to thinking that the licence
is there for a purpose. As you say, I am not even sure that Alex
Ferguson has this particular badge. It hasn't prevented him from
being one of the greatest managers of all time, and I am still
debating the point.
Well, 50% of first-time managers never get back into the game
when they get the sack, and so
Q421 Philip Davies: I
was going to move on to the respect bit, because as we have mentioned
Alex Ferguson, it seemed a good point to ask just brieflythe
FA tried to introduce a respect campaign to help the amateur game
as well, parents not having a go at the referee and all this kind
of thing. As we touched on Alex Ferguson, what is the League Managers
Association doing to make sure that managers set the best example
of all to their players, which is not to challenge the referee's
decisions, that the players therefore do not challenge the referee's
decisions, because unless the managers and the players at the
highest levels of football show some respect to the referee, there
is no chance of anybody lower down the chain doing it.
Richard Bevan: The Respect programme
is a very important programme, and when the FA and Lord Triesman
launched it, we were, and still are, very supportive. I was in
a meeting yesterday, and am pleased to see that the results of
the Respect programme have been working, that there has been turnaround
in terms of the amount of referees, there were about 7,000 amateur
referees leaving the game a year, that has been turned round.
In terms of managing at the very top and the
volcanoI think they call it, sitting on a volcanoat
times there will always be moments of high emotion, but behind
the scenes our guys are extremely hard-working. We have completed
a document and we have meetings on a regular basis with the PGMOL,
the body that works with the referees. We had 80 managers working
over 500 hours, chaired by Greg Dyke, where we came up with a
number of recommendations on how we could help referees, and that
is on an ongoing basis.
Steve Coppell: The only thing
I would say, after a game that has been very intense and the be-all
and end-all of your week, your preparation, your thinking, everything
you do, 20 minutes after the game finishes, you have somebody
asking you questions, it is very difficult to be even-tempered
and conclusive about what happened. So I think it is just the
passion of the moment. It is what makes our game, it is what all
the supporters want to see, they want to see the management team
show passion. Sometimes words don't come out the way you would
mean, but I don't think it is a bad thing. I think there is an
awful lot of respect emanatingcertainly I call Sir Alex
the don of managers. He is the don of managers. He does so much
for the game that is positive and I think so many of the top managers
are of that ilk, but just for 20 minutes sometimes you just don't
Richard Bevan: These guys do a
fantastic amount of work, as I said earlier, behind the scenes,
and something that people are not aware of is we have been debating
for the last three, four weeks in terms of what happens in post-match
interviews, in terms of not answering any questions regarding
the referee. They tried that in Scotland recently and it didn't
hold together, but it is something that we are looking at. There
was a case with one manager that said after the FA Cup match that
he didn't want to complete the interview, but he was told that
he was legally contracted to do that, which wasn't the case in
the FA Cup, and, again, his emotions were very high. You look
at the likes of Peter Jackson up at Bradford, he has three or
four games to prove his worth up there and to hopefully get a
full-time contract there running the club, not as a caretaker
manager, and one decision could affect that. But it is an entertainment
world. At the same time, our guys behind the scenes do very much
care, they are very positive about it. As I said, we had a five,
six-hour meeting on the subject yesterday.
Q422 Damian Collins:
There has been a lot of discussion about debt and profits in the
game. How much pressure is there on football managers to spend
Steve Coppell: That is a good
question. There is an awful lot of pressure on most managers not
to spend money. There are very few occasions where a Chairman
has said to me, "Well, why aren't you spending the money
that I've given you?" The reality is I think you know you
have to compete. I think most managers, given the opportunity
to spend money, would rather see that money running around on
the pitch than sitting in a bank account gathering interest and
looking after the financial security of their club in the future.
You know you are managing in the instant and you have to get results.
You are judged on results, so if you get the opportunity to spend
moneybut again, I have never known a Chairman who has allowed
me to spend more than he has offered.
Q423 Damian Collins:
But you must know in your conversations with the chairmen of football
clubs that if they have an ambition to reach a certain level,
it is going to cost them money, and if a manager wants to stay
in a job beyond the end of the season, he knows he is going to
need money to do that.
Steve Coppell: I very often say
to people in football, "The success of football is easy.
If you have the money, you buy the best players and then you have
the best team. It's easy". But most clubs don't have the
freedom of the finances to be able to do that, so every judgement
call you make then is just trying to get the best value for the
money you spend, and that is the art of management.
Q424 Damian Collins:
Mr O'Neill, I think it was reported you spent £120 million
in four years at Aston Villa, and that was not enough even to
get into the Champions League, but to get within touching distance
of it. I appreciate you cannot talk about Villa directly, but
I would be interested in your views on this: are managers in a
position where effectively they are driving debt within the game,
because they have to be advocates for spending more money?
Martin O'Neill: Well, one thing
I will say, the figure was much, much less. What generally happens
in a football club is they talk about the amount of money that
is spent on players coming in. What they forget to do is that
you have to attempt to balance some capacity by letting other
players go, and in actual fact the figure that we are talking
about was closer to £70 million net over four years. Yes,
there is seemingly an outside pressure, there is a pressure from
supporters who feel that when a club is taken over, the owner,
the Chairman, has just carte blanche to put this into a different
stratosphere when, in actual fact, most people would want to run
football clubs as a business. As Steve has just mentioned, I am
not so sure that there have been that many chairmen who would
say, "Well, here's a spare £50 million. Go out and see
what you can do with it". I think that prudence seems to
be the key word these days. But, yes, it is a difficult one. You
have to try and compete at some stage or another and if you feel
that there is something out there, someone out there who can help,
of course you will have these discussions. But the owner of the
football club will have the ultimate sanction.
Q425 Damian Collins:
Do football clubs have a strategy beyond spending as much money
as they can to try and sustain a league position? Some clubs are
striving to either get into the Premier League or compete at a
higher level within it. You have talked about youth football and
other things within the club, and clubs have limited resources.
It would strike me that a club would need a strategy to say, "We
have a certain amount we can spend. There is a certain amount
that has to come from internal development within the club, a
certain amount we have to raise through a better commercial strategy".
Do clubs have serious strategies like that, and given the management
might be there for a relatively short period of time, what role
does the manager have in that?
Richard Bevan: That will vary
dramatically from one club to another, and there are some very
good chairmen and boards out there. We spoke earlier about a model,
Stoke City, Peter Coates, the Chairman there, is very experiencedit
is his second time, I think, at Stokeand the chairmen at
Crewe and Doncaster Rovers and numerous chairmen and boards are
very talented and have very successful models in that they can
break even at the club and operate in a positive cash flow. I
think it will depend upon the boards. I find that particularly
on the employment tribunals and the legal issues we have. About
a third of the clubs are probably struggling with some of the
quality of the leaders of their clubs and the way that they operate
Q426 Damian Collins:
Mr O'Neill, do you think we will ever again see a club like Nottingham
Forest with a European Cup?
Martin O'Neill: Funnily enough,
I was thinking about that last night. Again, it is a dream. I
think it is highly unlikely, highly unlikely, the way that football
has gone in the last 20 years, and I think that would be a shame.
It doesn't mean that there couldn't be a manager who could bring
all of these things to pass. You could inherit a very, very good
youth team in a couple of years who might come through, if they
stick together, and I am talking about the Manchester United side
of about 1994, 1995 time, but I suppose that was at Manchester
United. Nottingham Forest are a provincial football club, steeped
in the history now with two European Cups. I don't think it is
impossible, but I think it is highly unlikely, certainly in the
Richard Bevan: Perhaps the expectation
has come away from winning the Champions League to getting into
the Champions League, as Everton did in 2008, and getting to the
last 16. That was obviously a major success.
Q427 Damian Collins:
I record for the record that Steve Coppell was giving a no to
Steve Coppell: That was a massive
no. Absolutely impossible without the massive support of a benefactor.
If you are producing a team, if you have a great youth team then
in the next transfer window you lose your three best players.
It is the very nature of football now.
Damian Collins: One final question, if
I may, I know we are getting tight on time.
Martin O'Neill: I wasn't expecting
him to be as strong as that.
Q428 Damian Collins:
I could see him vigorously shaking his head, so I thought I would
give him the chance to put it on the record. One topic that we
have talked about quite a lot in previous hearings is the football
creditors rule, and when we discussed it with the Premiership
chairmen and Chief Executives they expressed a view they thought
the rule should go, and that without the football creditors rule
clubs would, out of necessity, need to be more transparent in
the way they deal with each other. Clubs would be more cautious
about selling a player to a club if they didn't know that that
club had the money to pay for that player and that it would be
fairer, because it seems unfair that a football club with smaller
creditors from the community that they serve lose out when a football
club the other end of the country is protected by it. As managers,
I would be interested in your views on that. If the football creditors
rule went, do you think it would make a difference to the way
you do your jobs and do you think it would be good for the game?
Richard Bevan: First of all, before
I pass on to these guys the football creditors rule doesn't apply
to managers and coaches. It is obviously something that has had
a lot of debate recently and probably still needs to have more
debate, but I think that would come if the clubs could have a
licence, in looking at how they would operate. But it does need
a debate, and certainly the man in the street running the small
printing business and not getting paid is an issue in today's
commercial society around football.
Martin O'Neill: Are you referring
perhaps to transparency? For instance, I have never understood
this idea about a player being sold to another club and it was
a non-disclosed fee. I have never been into that idea.
Q429 Damian Collins:
No, I think what I was referring to is if a player is sold to
a club and that club might be in financial difficulties. The football
club selling might not be as concerned that it might not get its
money if the payment was being paid in instalments, because they
are protected by the football creditors rule, but if that rule
didn't exist a club might want to know a lot more about how a
club is going to pay for that player.
Martin O'Neill: Obviously.
In the temporary absence of the Chairman,
Mr Adrian Sanders was called to the
Chair for the remainder of the meeting.
Q430 Mr Sanders: If the
Chair were here, he would be calling on me to ask the next question,
which is what impact has the increased level of overseas ownership
had on standards of governance in the English game?
Richard Bevan: We have about 11
or 12 overseas owners in the Premier League. To be honest, whether
the owner comes from America, Birmingham, Australia, Wales, wherever
they come from, I think that they need to be operating within
a much tighter environment. We would like to see a licence going
from the FA to clubs, a framework where a new owner, wherever
he came from, had to work within much closer guidelines, and that
would protect the future of the club and also give more integrity.
Certainly, there are the UEFA fair play rules, and there are still
some issues around ownership and offshore ownership and transparency.
But I think it is not so much about overseas owners, it is more
about the quality and making sure the framework is correct. If
you do have overseas owners coming on board, as we have recently,
I think we have tothe leagues and the FA and the mediaimpart
upon them the importance of the tradition, the philosophy, the
supporters and the actual community, and I think if we do thatin
many ways the Government are also a union for supporters. It is
Q431 Mr Sanders: Would
you see this in place of the fit and proper test or is it in addition
to the fit and proper persons?
Richard Bevan: Do you mean the
Mr Sanders: Yes.
Richard Bevan: The fit and proper
persons test or the director test, I see that as part of a licence.
Steve Coppell: I think good governance
is all about protection. You have to protect the people within
the game and I think the people who need to be protected on this
particular point are the supporters, because that is the only
loyalty in football, the supporter for his own club. Almost every
other loyalty can be bought, but the supporter for his own club,
when he is at the whim of bad governance then he is vulnerable
and I think everybody within the game is going to be very mindful
Q432 Mr Sanders:
Martin, can I ask you, because you are in a unique position. You
will have experienced a club run as a committee at Nottingham
Forest; you have experienced the traditional English club ownership
model under, say, Doug Ellis; and you will have experienced foreign
ownership at Aston Villa. How would you compare the differences
between the three?
Yes, I joined Nottingham Forest way back in 1971 as a 19 year
old player and they were the only team in the Football League
who were run by a committee. That of course, changed inyou
may say it might have changed about 1990-odd or whatever it was.
It changed in January of 1975 when Brian Clough arrived, because
it was no longer a committee, it was his decision. It was interesting
for those couple of years to see how that committee was run. Of
course, I was a young professional footballer at the time, more
interested in trying to break into the first team, but I did not
know the basic difference between that and the board. I felt that
the committee at Nottingham Forest seemed to run itself reasonably
well at that stage. It did not find itself in serious debt until
1979, when they decided to build the East Stand. They needed £2
million, would you believe, and I think they found a little bit
of difficulty, and even winning the European Cup at that time
did not cover the cost. So that was the first time that I realised
that the committee could find itself in a bit of difficulty, of
course there were shareholders and such things like that.
I have been involved with football clubs where
they have been run by boards. I have been in board meetings too;
those are interesting in themselves. I get back to the point that
Richard and Steve make. If you have good governance, I think that
will transcend most things, and I think that is the best way for
me to explain it. If the club is run exceptionally well, has transparency,
obviously, and I suppose if the supporter believes in the way
that club is being run and thinks that this club can have a future
for a start and, secondly, can have some ambition, I believe then
that that is the best way. If there is a comparison between the
three, it would have to do with the governance of the club itself,
not the way in which it was done.
Q433 Jim Sheridan:
Can I ask a question about the role of football players' agents?
We have the extreme example of Wayne Rooney, who made it known
that he was not happy at Man United and then regained his enthusiasm
when another couple of zeros were added to his contract. You guys
depend in your job on getting the best out of players, they have
to remain focused on what they are supposed to be doing in terms
of playing football, but if players are being distracted by being
promised extra money, or moving clubs, or to stop being players,
that will impact on your job, I would imagine. I was trying to
get a feel for what managers think of agents, and should there
be a code of conduct between managers and agents. But also should
the manager and the player have the same agent?
That is a big question. I think the role of the agents is something
again, a little bit like the governance issue, where there will
be good and bad out there, and we probably experience both. There
are 400 licensed agencies, I think, in the UK. Our biggest concern
is that FIFA, I think in 2012, is going to be relinquishing their
regulatory control over agents, and I think that is going to be
a major problem. I think, probably because of legal issues, administration
issues, if you have agents bringing young players from country
to country, indeed from continent to continent, you are going
to have a lot of issues. Certainly, from my experience, I have
seen a lot of good agents working. Probably the biggest negative
for me is the size of agency fees. I think that is something I
have been extremely surprised at.
From my experience again, as Richard said, there are good and
bad. A good agent is a huge ally in dealing with some players,
particularly difficult players. A bad agent needs to be regulated,
and again, that is where you need guidance from your governing
body, to make sure it is not just a code of conduct but actual
regulations whereby bad agents are eliminated.
You would hope that when you sign a player that if he signs, for
instance, a four year deal, that you would be hoping that you
would have some control of this. I think that this might be a
separate issue, but the control has left the football clubs and
gone to the players and therefore the agents. I think that is
one of the major changes I have seen in the game. When I started
out, the player had no control whatsoever, he was at the behest
of the football club. Now it has gone full circle and I think
the players are now in charge, which is a bit of a shame.
Recently I heard it is a bit like the wild west out there, we
can't do anything about it, we are where we are, and I think that
is an inappropriate approach to it.
Q434 Jim Sheridan:
I think the fundamental problem as I see it is that there is an
incentive for agents to move players on, simply because of the
commission they get, so it is in their interest to keep moving
players on. The other factor is the fact that the agent also is
paid by the club. Would it be fairer if the player pays the agent
rather than the club?
I think you probably need to look at other models around the world
and pick up experiences. For instance, if you take America, in
a number of sports the agents' fees are paid centrally. I am not
necessarily saying that is the right way to go, I am just saying
there needs to be a focus on the framework and if there is not
it will be chaos.
Q435 Jim Sheridan:
Steve, you say you think that agents should be regulated?
I believe so, yes.
Q436 Jim Sheridan:
Would you agree with that, Martin?
Q437 Damian Collins:
Do you think the Bosman ruling has had an inflationary impact
on players' wages?
Yes, I do. Interestingly, I think that you can trace an awful
lot of these questions today back to Bosman. Bosman set out in
the first place with right on his side, because he had been given
a free transfer, his money for the following year was going to
be less than the previous year. In English football he would have
been given a free transfer and therefore he would have been free
to negotiate another deal with someone else. But he was held back.
He was held back by the club, who had freed him, and were not
prepared to keep him but were looking for a fee. He took this
to a higher authority and won his case, and I think quite rightly
won his case. Had he been dealt with in England, it would have
been perfectly all right. But suddenly, just from that, the fallout
from that was extensive, so much so that we were possibly debating
the idea that football itself could have its own rules, and I
think there is certainly a case for that. Because the minute that
there was a possibility of a player having a bit of a difficulty
with his contract, suddenly he could go to European law, and find
a loophole there, and sort things out. Clubs were finding out
loopholes as they were going along. For instance, a player with
two years left of his contract was in the position, by some sort
of lawmade way back, I think, during King John's timethat
he could actually get out of his contract, and certainly in his
last year, could buy himself out and agents were using these to
manipulate situations. Bosman himself set out on the side of right,
but a lot of fallout from that has happened. It has triggered
a number of situations which I believe could have been resolved
Q438 Jim Sheridan:
Can I just clarify the question I asked about, is it unhealthy
or bad practice for the player and the manager to have the same
I would say it is bad practice, with the potential of being unhealthy.
Yes, absolutely. Conflict of interest would almost certainly take
With the Bosman thing, I think we can realistically say now, for
most good players, a contract is probably at least 12 months short
of the reality, because you know you have to protect that asset.
Q439 Damian Collins: You
have to renegotiate before you get to the last year?
Yes, very much so. At least 12 months. And that, with the combination
of increased TV income, has made it very inflationary, yes.
Q440 Alan Keen:
Because we are short on time, I am going to try and be brief.
It is the main structure of the game in this country that needs
changing. Do you agree that it should be the FA that is the body
that is strengthened so it is superior in power to any other body
in football? That would be with an LMA representative on there
as well, of course. But it is the FA surely, that must be strengthened
to be the regulating body above any other part of
I think, if there is one thing that can come from the select committee
and the encouragement to the game to do various proactive things,
one of them will be to work together to unify the family and absolutely
a pyramid system in which the FA are on top. The FA are the representative
of FIFA and UEFA. At the moment the FA just manage the business.
Like Ian said earlier, I think a lot of the criticism of the executive
is unfair. In my three years I have come across a lot of fantastic
executives in the FA and in the Premier League as well, and their
speed and their communication and the discussions we have are
very good. Unfortunately, the framework in which they operate
does not encourage them to be innovative, proactive and, most
importantly, it does not encourage leaders. It is the framework
that needs to be changed and if you do not change the framework
then they will not develop.
Q441 Alan Keen:
Do you agree that the PFA also, along with the LMA, should have
a representative on that?
I think, if you wanted effective governance in the world we live
in, whatever sport it was, if you do not embrace the players,
the coaches, and certainly, in our case, the managers, then you
will fail in delivering that participation. It is only when you
get participation in decision making, if you achieve that then
you will find people are on the same wavelength and we will deliver
far greater success. A little bit like, I was talking earlier
about Germany and Holland, where you do not see the turf wars,
for want of a better way of putting it.
Richard had said earlier that we do have the determination, we
have the passion, and I think we have the knowledge, although
that might not be universally accepted. But I do believe that
we have an important role to play, simply because we are, or are
supposed to be, the most important person at the football club.
I think there has been a fair amount of talk as well, about whether
there should be independent directors. If you had a very efficient
structure in the way we have just been mentioning, then the need
for independent directors would not come out. But you do need,
as it stands at the moment, guys who will challenge, and the PFA
and the LMA represent people across all of the leagues. I think
that is very important.
Q442 Alan Keen:
Do you agree that the independent directors, the sort of people
who would be appointed, would listen to you? At the moment you
do not have that voice at the top.
I think we have the voice, insomuch that the guys that are members
of the LMA have got a powerful voice collectively. We try to use
that very professionally, whether it is the professional way forward
document; we have a current review with Southampton University
going on in the technical area; we are looking at transfer windows;
we are looking at a whole range of technical issues. But there
is not a technical committee in the FA. The Technical Control
Board they got rid of in 2006. Then you can look at the true governance,
you have the Professional Game Board, which sits below the FA,
and the Professional Game Board's remit is the finances of the
FA yet the Chief Executive and the Chairman of the FA do not have
a vote on that, which is why I believe Adam Crozier resigned.
Q443 Paul Farrelly:
We have run over our time, I am sorry to detain you. I only have
two questions on which I wanted to seek your views. Firstly, with
regard to the game and the FA, we went to Germany, and without
being naive and taking everything at face value, we got an impression
of a more collective ethos, particularly when we were told the
story of how they reacted to their disappointing performance in
Euro 2000, to try and change their game. My specific question
is about youth development. Do you think that the current proposals
for youth development in the countrywith all the different
interests involved, including the Premier Leagueare right,
or is there something better that we could be doing?
To be honest, I do not know the answer to that. I know there is
progress being made at the academy level at the moment, and changes
are afoot. But in any walk of life you are judged on results and
if we are not getting results, if we do not have the input of
young, home-grown players coming through the way we would like,
to give us a very competitive national team, then we must change,
we must do something different. We must have a more innovative
approach to how we are producing our players rather than just
leaving the blinkers on and saying this is what we have done for
so many years and we are all right. We have to be more open-minded
and flexible, I think.
Youth development is massively important. Our Chairman, Howard
Wilkinson, who sadly could not be with us today, has a lot of
good thoughts and views which he is imparting upon key people
in the game. I think the responsibility for youth development
essentially should be with the FA, but the Premier League are
taking some key movements into their new academy system. I think
what is important is that they embrace the Football League, which
they are in negotiations with, and I am sure they will come out
together. But what is important is the likes of Watford and Crewe
and Southampton and Middlesbrough. Those clubs are doing fantastic
work with youth development. They are still incentivised, they
are still encouraged, and they still see that as an important
role. If you look to Germany, they are spending £500 million
on their youth development and their structure. But they are more
or less one organisation and so they do work much closer together.
But I absolutely believe that the Premier League are a very efficient
organisation. If they were to work closer with the Football League
and indeed with the FA, giving clear guidelines, then we would
be in a better position.
Q444 Paul Farrelly:
I am just wondering, Martin, whether over this issue we can square
the circle by persuading people to give away some of their own
money and share it out a bit more, if not in their own interest,
then in the national interest?
Yes. I did not realise until I read it a few days ago that each
member of the German World Cup side, the 23 players, had actually
come through a Bundesliga academy system. If you tell me that
is a fallout from 2000, then that is very, very commendable, and
there are parts that we could pick up from that. Like Steve, I
am not really sureI will only go from my personal experience
at club level, I am all on for the youth academies. When I went
to Aston Villa, I did not ask them to go and produce four or five
players within a year. But I hope over time that we will get some
very, very good players coming through the football club, and
I think that is happening at the moment, and that is exceptionally
good news. Steve also mentioned we are in the results business.
To try and see that through, to see the end of that five-year
plan that a manager and owner or Chairman seem to set out in the
very first place, you have to be winning games at that first team
level. And you are hoping by the end of that five-year period
that you might have at least three or four of those young academy
players playing regularly, consistently well in your team to hold
down a place in a side that is doing very well.
The investment in the National Football Centre is fantastic. 1999
was the year when the FA bought the land. They probably should
have built the National Football Centre then, instead of building
Wembley and wasting £92 million on legal fees around Wembley.
That is probably a lack of strategy and vision. But the hardest
thing I think for the Premier League and the Football League and
the FA, and indeed any of the other countries that invest time
and money in youth development, is creating the opportunities,
that is the hardest thing of all. You can find great coaches,
you can invest in those sort of structures, but creating the opportunities
for these guys to play is the hard part.
Q445 Paul Farrelly:
Burton, the brewing capital of Britain, in my county of Staffordshire,
leads me neatly to my last question, which is about supporters,
which is what this inquiry really picked up on in the first place,
from what the Government and various political parties were saying
in their manifestos. As you all know, a fortnight, particularly
at this stage of the season, is a long time in football. With
Stoke City, if you do not beat West Ham in the quarter-finals
of the FA Cup to get to the semi, and then if you do not beat
Newcastle United 4-0 to stave off the relegation battle, within
a fortnight you can go like Tony Pulis and Peter Coates at Stoke,
from walking on water to being dead men walking. You hear supposedly
sane and rational supporters, who are not idiots, grumbling and
you just want to tell them to get a life sometimes and get some
perspective. So given that, my question is, you have been under
these pressures, do you like supporters, and if the answer is
yes, what role do you think they and their organisations have
in the governance arrangements of clubs in the country?
We exist to make the supporters happy. They are the people that
need to be entertained to continue our industry, so they do have
a massive voice. How that should be channelled, I do not know,
because, as you mentioned with your own club, it gets almost so
centred to their own team that you can't see the bigger picture.
But without doubt, we have to keep our customers happy, they are
our number one bosses and they have a massive voice to say in
the way football in this country is going to be developed in the
future, whether it be paying through the turnstiles or paying
for TV. Someone with a better footballing brain than I will determine
how that can be done, but they have to have a say in the way our
game is developed.
Are you concerned about the madness that Stoke City's fans are
showing at the moment?
Q446 Paul Farrelly:
I would not want to single out one club. I am sure it is across
a lot of clubs in the second half of the division. But the question
really is, Martin and Richard, should there be specific structures
imposed, specific models imposed or, within the realms of involving
supporters, should the clubs be allowed to evolve their own models?
Supporters' trusts operate successfully in a number of clubs,
and absolutely they are key stakeholders. On the board behind
you is the word "participation" all the way across.
I think it is participationthey need to have their voice
listened to, they are absolutely key to the game and the more
that the Football Supporters Federation can get a seat at the
right tables, then the better for the game.
Steve mentioned earlier, I think it was a good point, that the
only loyalty in football is the supporter with his football club.
I think that they always want the best for their football club.
They want the very, very best. If they have a good manager in
charge, they want a better manager in charge. I just think it
is the modern day approach to the game and I listen to the occasional
phone-in, the website, this instancy. You want to be better, you
want to be better than the previous week, you want to be better
than the previous day. That fortnight you talked about where the
manager and Chairman can go from walking on water to being dead
men walking, that exists at every single football club. When you
have won a few trophies, as Sir Alex Ferguson has done, just a
few, then I believe that you can transcend that. But we are mere
mortals in this game and we have to live with that. I believe
there is a touch of insanity about it, but I do not know how it
is going to be eradicated. Supporters are the most important people
because they will still be supporting the football club. How you
involve them, I do not know. Would you be thinking about a renegade
group joining the board, or something like that? I just really
do not know at this minute, and I have not thought it through.
Q447 Jim Sheridan:
I think the sad reality is, everybody I have spoken to agrees
that supporters should have some sort of tangible role in football,
but there is always resistance. It is like the constituents who
always want to play a part in community but they want it somewhere
else. That is exactly what we find with football. Yes, there should
be a role for supporters, but I am not going to give up my position
to give it to a supporter.
I must admit, honestly, I really have not thought it through.
Mr Sanders: I am sorry,
gentlemen, I think we must wrap this
up. You said earlier that you thought somebody was going to go
imminently. It almost makes Martin's point. I believe it is Ronnie
Moore at Rotherham, who only a few weeks ago was in fifth position
in League Two, and five poor results and it looks like he has
been shown the door today. Can I say a very big thank you to Steve
Coppell, Richard Bevan, Martin O'Neill, for giving evidence today.
It has been a very good session, thank you.