1 Introduction |
1. Football is our national game. As well as
having contributed £970 million to the Exchequer in 2009/10,
it is also a significant and high-profile national cultural institution
that plays an important role in the community and supports wider
initiatives in a number of fields such as education, health and
social inclusion. Above
all else, it generates strong emotional attachments that are hard
to convey in statistics or on the pages of a Report but are nevertheless
real and powerful.
2. Supporters and commentators have expressed
concern that there are insufficient checks and balances on financial
mismanagement in football and that a failure of governance is
jeopardising the sustainability of the game, both at the micro-level
of individual clubs and at the macro-level of the pyramid league
structure and the national game more generally. An oft-quoted
statistic is that, in addition to Premier League Portsmouth's
high-profile insolvency during the 2009/10 season, over 50% of
Football League clubs have gone into administrationsome
on more than one occasionsince 1992, when the Premier League
was founded. Concerns have also been raised as to whether the
sport's governing body in England, the Football Association (FA),
is fit for purpose. One underlying theme is that the commercialisation
of the game, and associated financial risk-taking, is undermining
football's ability to deliver wider community benefits.
3. We have also been aware of the coalition Government's
commitment to encourage the reform of football governance rules
to support the co-operative ownership of football clubs by supporters.
Indeed, the Government indicated to us that it would welcome a
select committee inquiry to help frame its thinking as to how
it should take this undertaking forward.
4. Our predecessor Committee conducted an inquiry
into Women's Football.
A number of factors convinced us that the time was right to turn
our attention to the governance of the professional game. For
example, there was the fall-out from the failure in December 2010
of England's bid to host the 2018 Football World Cup, which we
have addressed in a separate Report.
There was mounting evidence of broader concerns about the health
of the domestic game, expressed through the media, in MPs' postbags,
and in Parliament during a well-attended Westminster Hall debate
in September 2010.
5. The Committee announced its inquiry into domestic
football governance in December 2010. We wanted to establish the
seriousness of the problems facing the game, and to examine possible
options to address themincluding greater supporter involvement
that, crucially, did not impinge on English football's undoubted
strengths. We were delighted with the volume and quality of the
nearly 100 written submissions, including a number from supporters'
organisations. We held eight oral evidence sessions, including
two out of Westminster at Burnley Football Club and Wembley Stadium.
This was a relatively large number for a select committee inquiry,
reflecting the importance the Committee attached to hearing from
all key stakeholders. Although the main focus of our inquiry was
football governance in England, we also took evidence from the
Scottish Football Association and from the Rt Hon Henry McLeish
who has recently completed a review of Scottish Football, to see
if there were lessons to be learned north of the border. We also
undertook a visit to Arsenal Football Club to learn about Arsenal's
work in the community and its innovative fanshare scheme. Finally,
in March 2011, we travelled to Frankfurt and Munich to spend a
few days learning more about the German system of football governance.
The more heavily regulated German football model was the most
frequently quoted in written evidence as a model from which England
6. The second chapter of this Report provides
context, explaining how the current English football model came
into being in the early 1990s, and outlining its strengths and
weaknesses. The third chapter examines the extent to which reform
of the FA is a pre-requisite if the weaknesses of English football
are to be addressed. The following two chapters assess in more
detail the areas most often cited as lacking good governance:
football financial management and club ownership. Chapter six
looks at the case for greater supporter involvement in football
governance issues, while chapter seven looks at the governance
issues at the grass roots with the most potential to impact upon
the future of the professional game. Finally, chapter eight looks
at the way forward, including for Government.
7. The Committee would like to thank Burnley
Football Club and the FA for hosting oral evidence sessions; Arsenal
Football Club; and all the organisations and individuals who gave
freely of their time and knowledge during the visit to Germany.
We would also like to extend our thanks to Christine Oughton and
Rick Parry, our specialist advisers to this inquiry, for their
invaluable contributions to this Report.
1 Tax figure from Deloitte. Figure is contributions
from Premier League and Football League clubs. Increases in income
tax, national insurance and VAT rates will mean that the 92 professional
clubs will pay more than £1 billion in tax in 2010/11. Back
Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Fourth Report of Session
2005-06, Women's Football, HC 1357 Back
Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Sixth Report of Session
2010-12, The 2018 Football World Cup Bid, HC 1031 Back
HC Deb, 8 September 2010, col 73-98 WH Back
Rick Parry declared the following interests: In receipt of a termination
payment from Liverpool FC on a monthly basis. One of his sons
is employed by Manchester City FC as a sports scientist. Back