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.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

WE CANT HEAR YOU


Printed in the Southern League Central Division One game v AFC Hayes Saturday 9th February 2013. We won 2-1 in front of 200 people.

The message from the government was clear. Oi, Football Association. Sort it out or we’re send the boys round. Just like we have done with the bankers, corporate tax dodgers and media barons. Er, sort of. The FA however will be celebrating their 150th anniversary by putting their fingers in their collective ears and shouting we can’t hear you.
And with Financial Fair Play rules just around the corner, something’s got to budge. However with one FA grandee reacting to the committees report by bleating “We have been running our business for 150 years, which is a lot longer than they will be in power” I’m not holding my breath. 
The one year ultimatum comes after a new report from the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee which outlined concerns about financial management, the balance of power between the Premier League and the Football Association and the impact of risk-taking by owners (read as ‘promise the earth, go on insane spending spree you can’t afford, then bugger off claiming your owned billions, putting the club at risk of administration.’) The chair of the committee MP John Whittingdale said "We have been clear that we want the football authorities to carry out the reforms they promised by the start of the 2013-14 season - most notably around improved governance and diverse representation at the FA, the development of a licensing system and greater financial transparency. If football does not deliver then we will look at bringing forward legislation."

Labour’s shadow minister for Sport in an ‘after-the-horse-has bolted’ statement of the year said There is a worrying trend as financial interests take hold that the game is becoming remote from the communities from which the clubs originated.” But he did make a good point that "The involvement of fans is essential for the future vitality of the game.” Just look at Swansea City where the Swan Trust own 20% of the Premier League Club ‘and 100% believe in football clubs being owned by fans for fans!’
Supporters Direct agreed with the recommendations with the many of the issues central to their mission. Their Chief Executive David Lampitt said “The positive role that supporters can play is no better demonstrated than by looking at the success of Swansea City, FC United of Manchester or the Bundesliga in Germany. Fans are not the cause of the game’s problems, but they can be, they must be, part of the solution. Supporters Direct will continue to push for these reforms working alongside our partner organisations, the football authorities and the Government.”
Supporters Direct promotes clubs being owned democratically but ironically they (and the Football Supporters Federation) are currently funded by the Premier League! The Premier Leagues Chief Richard Scudamore complained that asking for this funding is like asking "20 owners to fund an organisation whose avowed intent in some cases is to remove the owners of the clubs that funded them in the first place".
Of course the FA, Premier League and Football League don’t agree with the committees report or what must change. In a statement they said "Significant headway has already been made on many of these proposed reforms, not least on sustainability and transparency.”
Well hello, cloud cuckoo land. How sustainable is the 72 clubs in the Football League carrying a collective debt of £1 billion!
The report also got the approval of Sports minister Hugh Robertson MP who once described football as “the worst governed sport in Britain.” 

But asking those in power to give it away, always ends up with a two finger salute.

What fans need to do is grow some back-bone just like the supporters of Manchester City who handed back a third of their away ticket allocation at Arsenal recently telling them to stick their 62 quid tickets up their Emirates. Fans need to stop acting like lemmings and start boycotting games if you feel you are being ripped off; let’s see how the football authorities like empty stadiums.

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