Football Governance - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents

Written evidence submitted by the League Managers Association


The League Managers Association welcomes the opportunity granted to it by the DCMS Select Committee to make a submission to its forthcoming Inquiry on the Governance of Professional Football.

The LMA is firmly of the opinion that the current system is not fit for purpose and unable to provide the leadership that is necessary if English football is to regain its place at the top of the world game.

There is an overwhelming need for increased accountability, transparency and communication within football and to make this happen, then fundamental changes will be required.

For this to occur, we believe that the following key changes are necessary;

1.  A new FA Board structure with independent and executive directors.

2.  The adoption of good governance recommendations and practices including a role for the Football Supporters' Federation, the Professional Footballers' Association and the League Managers Association in the decision-making process.

3.  A unifying strategic plan for the game with input from all stakeholders.

4.  An increased focus on player development learning from experiences in other countries.

5.  Enhanced club licensing and regulatory controls including the mandatory adoption of standard contracts for managers.


In many aspects, the professional game has changed significantly for the better over the past 26 years, following the dark days of Heysel and Hillsborough.

1.1  Stadia and Community

Following the publication of the Taylor Report in 1990, football grounds have became all-seater and clubs have regained their place in the heart of their local communities by way of numerous community initiatives, as diverse as numeracy, literacy and crime prevention.

1.2  Racism

Racial abuse has now thankfully been all but eradicated from our stadia, thanks to the Kick it Out campaign and the The FA's Ethics and Sports Equity Strategy.

1.3  The Economic Health of the Game

The Barclays Premier League is watched worldwide and as a consequence has become a significant financial success. Attendances in both the Premier League and Football League are amongst the highest in Europe, proving that English football is an exciting and vibrant product.

1.4  The National Football Centre

The decision to proceed with the National Football Centre at St. George's Park is to be commended. It will provide a resource to develop and train future England players, aspiring coaches and thereby identifying future English players, managers and coaches. It will form a route to a career path in coaching and for delivering courses in association with higher and further education providers for all football related careers.



2.1  With the exception of the Chairman of The FA, the current Board of Directors of The FA is comprised of members, most of whom are directors of other companies involved in football. This produces a situation where directors can be perceived as having conflicts of interest.

2.2  It is difficult to see how, placed in such circumstances, directors of The FA can act simultaneously and consistently in the best interests of the organisation and how such a situation mitigates against the development and implementation of strategic long-term sustainable plans for The FA and English Football as a whole.

2.3  The creation in 2002 of the Professional Game Board (PGB) with its terms of reference concerning the distribution of FA revenue accrued directly from the professional game has further concentrated strategic decision making into a forum in which decisions regarding The FA are made exclusively by members of The FA who are directors of other football companies. Even the Chairman of The FA does not have a vote in the forum of the PGB.

2.4  In 2005, the Burns Report produced its recommendations for a review of The Football Association. Paramount of the 16 recommendations was a new Board of Directors should be created to take full responsibility for overseeing the running of The FA and for the delivery of its strategic objectives. It should include two executive directors and at least two independent non-executive directors and should be accountable to The FA Council. Despite political pressure amongst others, this has failed to be implemented.


3.1  The recent Birkbeck Sport Business Centre Report "Good Governance in Sport" identified that the recognition and management of stakeholder interests is considered a key element of good governance. The four principles of good governance explicitly relate to stakeholders:

—  accountability of decision makers to stakeholders;

—  participation so that all stakeholders are represented when decisions are taken;

—  responsiveness of the organisation to its stakeholders; and

—  transparency about the information on which decisions have been based, the decisions themselves, and the way those decisions are implemented.

3.2  There is a need to review the way that Governance in Football is implemented and to identify short, medium and long-term changes.

3.3  Currently, three key stakeholders are excluded from the decision-making process, the Football Supporters' Federation, the Professional Footballers' Association and the League Managers Association. For the credibility of the sport, this has to change and the LMA believes that each of these organisations, representing these key elements in the game, should have a place on The FA Board as a right.

3.4  In addition, if the Professional Game Board of The Football Association is to have credibility, then the LMA would like to see representatives of the Football Supporters' Federation, the Professional Footballers' Association and the League Managers Association to be included in its composition.


4.1  Despite many of the strengths of our game being at club level, the conflict between The Football Association and the Leagues continues to be a significantly destabilising factor.

4.2  Within the game, there is a perception that there is a significant lack of strategy as to how football should progress in England. The LMA would like to see a unifying strategy identifying short-term, medium term and long-term goals.

4.3  This strategy must be prepared with the agreement of all the game's stakeholders. The failure to implement all the recommendations of the Burns Report highlighted this issue.

4.4  There is a further need to work as a team, in respect of International Football/FIFA Politics. An example of the problem of a lack of coordination across the game arose during the ill-fated 2018 World Cup Bid. It was only at the 11th hour that one of the game's most valuable assets, the managers, were called upon to assist. The membership of the LMA contains a wealth of talent and over 100,000 matches' experience. The value of involving Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsène Wenger and many others, at the centre of the bid, was a wonderful opportunity missed.


5.1  The Football Association has no committee, nor any recognized forum to discuss, oversee and nurture the development of English footballers.

5.2  The Technical Control Board, established in 1996 was scrapped in 2006 and the PGB's own Youth Sub Committee established in 2007 was dismantled in 2008. Thus there is neither external FA supervision of Academies and Centres of Excellence, nor the opportunity for The FA, the governing body of the game in England, to develop a long-term, unified strategy for the development of young English footballers.

5.3  In 2000, after some comparative failures at international tournaments, Germany decided that a change of policy was required. They decided that the number of foreign players in the Bundesliga (50% in 2000) was too high and not enough high-quality players were being produced in Germany. Their priority became the elite professional structure, the clubs, while recognising that the national side and the entire German football economy would benefit from a drive to develop talented young players.

5.4  Crucially, the Germans also have a very harmonious relationship between the DFB and their leading clubs. They all work commonly to promote youth development. After significant investment in youth development (circa £500 million) they now have nearly 400 national training centres as well as 46 academies, one at every club in their two top divisions. Their clubs and governing bodies all work together for the good of youth development and their national side.

5.5  They have reached the semi-finals of the past two World Cups, doing so this summer with a squad whose average age was only 24.7 years old, compared to England's which was 29. Every one of their 23-man squad in South Africa began his career with a Bundesliga club academy. In 2009 they were the European Under-21 champions.

5.6  The same applies in Holland and the relationship between the Dutch FA (KNVB) and their top league (Eredivisie). Holland, a country of 16 million people, has a national team that is number 2 in the FIFA World rankings. This did not occur by chance, but by the close co-operation of all the parties. Holland's decision making forum includes representatives of both the coaching and the playing professions.


6.1  The current UEFA licensing system is a step in the right direction, but does not address all of the issues created by "overseas ownership", including the number of clubs owned by offshore companies outside the control of UK legislation.

6.2  In addition, the LMA believes that the game's 'Fit and Proper Person Regulations' also need consolidating and strengthening.

6.3  Furthermore, there is a need for better employment regulations within the professional game. The number of managers and coaches dismissed after only a short time in post continues to damage the credibility of the sport. Statistical evidence suggests that the gains from changing football managers are marginal, if indeed there are any at all, and without doubt the sacking of managers is a costly business to football clubs. The life expectancy of a sacked manager is now 1.4 years. In League 2 it is now less than 12 months. The saddest statistic, however, is that 50% of first time managers who are sacked will never work in the profession again, in any capacity. What encouragement is this for players approaching the end of their careers to obtain their coaching qualifications?

6.4   The LMA is firmly of the opinion that standard contracts need to be introduced for the employment of managers across the leagues. These are not documents designed to work solely in favour of the employee, but to give certainty to the employer/employee relationship. Among the advantages of its introduction would include the end of misunderstanding on key points and the promotion of clarity and consistency from club to club.


The League Managers Association is the collective, representative voice of all professional managers from the Barclays Premier League, the npower Championship and npower Leagues 1 and 2.

Formed originally in 1919 as the Football League Secretaries' and Managers' Association, the LMA came into existence in 1992, during the period when football in England was undergoing major change, including the split of the FA Premier League from the rest of the Football League, and the introduction of satellite television coverage of football by Sky Television.

The LMA has continued to develop its support and service offering to its members and its influence within the game. The LMA has become an integral and credible part of the football industry and as football continues to present new challenges, the LMA will grow and adapt to achieve its aims.

The six major aims of the LMA are:

1.  To represent the interests of the professional football managers to The Football Association, Premier League, Football League and all the game's other governing bodies and stakeholders.

2.  To promote and publish the views of the professional managers on key issues within the game.

3.  To protect the rights and privileges of its members.

4.  To deliver and grow a range of support services to the managers both professionally and personally.

5.  To embrace and deliver strong commercial relationships with the game's sponsors and partners.

6.  To encourage honourable practice, conduct and courtesy in all professional activity.

January 2011

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© Parliamentary copyright 2011
Prepared 29 July 2011