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.
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
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:
of decision makers to stakeholders;
so that all stakeholders are represented when decisions are taken;
of the organisation to its stakeholders; and
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
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. A STRATEGIC
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
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
5. A FOCUS ON
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
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. CLUB LICENSING
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
6.2 In addition, the LMA believes that the game's
'Fit and Proper Person Regulations' also need consolidating and
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
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
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
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
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.