These articles are published in the Slough Town FC programme. The Rebels play in the Southern Premier - just seven leagues below the Premier League. I’ve been supporting Slough since the beginning of time despite now living in Brighton. After nearly 14 nomadic years we finally have a brand spanking new home in Slough.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

SWEET FA AGAIN

Printed in the Southern League Central Division game v Chalfont St
Peter Saturday 31st Matrch 2012. We drew 1-1 in front of 283 and stay
frustratingly second.

So what does Glasgow Rangers going into administration mean for
football? Is it, as consultants A T Kearney think, footballs Lehmans
moment? Lehmans was the massive investment bank that went to the wall
helping to bring the worlds economy crashing down. Could Rangers
insolvency be the beginning of a wider systemic crisis for football? A
business as negligently run as the worst banks.

Massively in debt they were brought for just one pound by a venture
capitalist with a dodgy background - I know that’s unusual for a
venture capitalist. He unsurprisingly passed the Scottish Football
Associations ‘fit and proper’ test. Well, they admit they didn’t
really bother to check and just asked him if he was a decent bloke.
But that’s the point and the problem. The Scottish FA just like the
English FA can’t take on the big football clubs who have become too
powerful for them to regulate.
A while back the government wrote a report telling the English FA to
sort themselves out or they will pass laws to do it. This really got
the FA scared. So last week they published their own report. The
minister, Hugh Robertson – who once boldly called football "the
country's worst governed sport" – welcomed the document, despite the
football authorities having rejected or blatantly ignored almost all
of his recommendations!
One of the government recommendations was that they would "encourage
the reform of football governance rules to support the co-operative
ownership of football clubs by supporters". It is not clear, almost
two years on, how the government thinks it has promoted that policy.
Instead what do we get? The news that Supporters Direct funded by the
Premiership since 2000 to promote fan ownership and representation in
clubs, must look for other ways to get its funding.
That the FA does FA should come as no surprise to any football fan
with a pulse. Portsmouth once again entered administration with debts
totaling around £50m. This is considerably less than the £119m owed
when they went into administration just two years ago but once again
it raises the broader issue whether the football authorities have the
resources, expertise or bollocks to properly carry out the fit and
proper persons test.

Of course there is a different model to all this and its one that more
football fans need to embrace if they want any sort of future for the
majority of our clubs. FC United of Manchester, the breakaway
Manchester United fans owned supporters club have managed to raise a
staggering  £1.6m from a community share issue to help fund a new
football ground and community sports facility in Moston, north
Manchester. Reaching the £1.6m target unlocks the grant funding they
need to meet the costs of the £4.6m project and enable building to
start in May.  Shareholders all have just one vote regardless of the
number of shares they hold, preserving the common ownership of the
club. As General Manager Andy Walsh put it “FC United was not just
established as ’another football club’ our stated aim from the very
beginning was to find an alternative way of running clubs to the
madness of rotating ownership and casino economics.”

So are Glasgow Rangers just like Lehmans claimed at the time, too big
too fail? Or will this be the wake up call football needs. I wouldn’t
hold your breath.

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