Essentially they have to reform, or they will be forcibly reformed. Specifically, they have been told to restructure their board so that the Premier League and Football League’s influence in reduced. In doing so, the FA will be more able to make reforms as currently they find this blocked by vested interests; i.e. the two leagues.
It is a brave and interesting proposition; if the government follow through on the threat, the FA would be less impotent and finally able to make reforms vital to its ability to function as a credible organisation.
For too long now the FA has been impotent to England’s problems. They need to be able to push ahead with important work such as rebuilding England’s international reputation. Currently, England has an under 20 side playing in the World Cup for that age group in Colombia. Jack Wilshere is not there, neither is Phil Jones, or Josh McEachran.
Why? Because Premier League clubs look after their own interests only. The proposals would give the FA the power to live up to its supposed role as the ultimate governing body in the UK. They need to be able to force Premier League clubs to allow players like these to go and participate in international competitions. When FIFA comes to consider an England bid to host a World Cup, they look at England’s disdainful treatment of their competitions, which are often held by smaller football nations like Colombia, Mexico, Japan, South Korea.
Now Colombia is hosting the competition, how will they look at England next time it comes to hosting a World Cup and possibly vote, given that FIFA looks like it may open up the voting process to all members? It will remember how England disrespected their hosting of the under 20 tournament by refusing to send its best players.
This is England’s fundamental problem. We are an inward looking, insular country to many. Blinded by arrogance, and in this situation, we have an FA without the power to do anything about this problematic situation.
The government now have a positive role to play for once. They can act to forcibly change the governance of English football, and with it, they have also suggested a licensing system should be created similar to that used in Germany, France and soon to be Spain. In France and Spain clubs must apply for a license from the FA, and to achieve this, they must comply with various requirements, including financial viability. Most Premier League clubs right now are not viable economically. If they were businesses, and not teams, almost every team – apart from Arsenal, Manchester United, Swansea, Norwich and Tottenham – would be bankrupt.
The report into football governance promises much. But English football has a history of missed opportunities. Let’s hope this is not another of those.