Blank faces of FA executives surprise no one

Not many people – save perhaps for the Football Association themselves – would have been surprised to hear that the Government’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee concluded that there are “serious doubts” as to whether the FA bosses in place are the right people to govern English football.

The FA are certainly experts at certain things – refusing to acknowledge their failings and an inability to understand or enforce their own Regulations would feature high on my list.

Whilst the serious issues that the Aluko debacle raises are of course at the centre of the current ‘scandal’ it was a moment towards the end of the DCMS grilling that resonated most for me. All four senior FA executives were asked about the Lucy Ward case – an extremely high profile dispute between Leeds United and their female Academy Welfare Officer which resulted in Ward winning a sex discrimination case against the club – and the blank faces were not only astonishing, but frankly, unforgivable. That Greg Clarke and Martin Glenn had to admit that they had never heard of the Lucy Ward case, and Clarke insisting that he wanted to know “when did this happen?” ought to beggar belief.

But of course it did not. In only the last year or two the FA have been provided with numerous kind assists from the Court, that ought to have allowed them to tap the ball in to the open goal in front of them and take some definitive action (without themselves having to fund the costs of investigating the matters at hand).

They have been given the High Court’s judgment in the Tony Pulis dispute with Crystal Palace back in November 2016, wherein it was stated that Pulis’ conduct was “disgraceful”, that he had “deliberately misled” Crystal Palace and had acted with “deceit”. Despite the FA’s own rules clearly requiring that such matters be investigated and in all probability lead to charges of misconduct, they did nothing.

They have been given the Court’s judgment in the Antony McGill agency dispute wherein it was held by the High Court and Court of Appeal that football agents authorised by the FA had fraudulently backdated documents and that Sammy Lee (at the time of the judgment employed by the FA) had given “false evidence” and that Frank McParland (now employed by Nottingham Forest) was “unreliable” and that he and Lee had “fabricated key events”. The FA did nothing.

They have been given the Wilfried Bony judgment wherein it is alleged that Swansea made substantial payments of an illegal nature to unauthorised agents. They were given the Leyton Orient judgment, which revealed all sorts of antics including illegal payments to unauthorised agents by club officials.

One could go on. The reality would be that despite the fact that these legal judgments are brought to the FA’s attention (and frankly they should know about them anyway ; if most of us working in the game not paid to govern it do, there is not much excuse for their lack of familiarity with these cases) if the FA executives had have been asked about them yesterday by the DCMS yesterday, I would bet a penny too that blank faces of the magnitude that we saw yesterday when Lucy Ward was cited would have been displayed.

Why is that? Is it, as Greg Clarke seemed to advocate, that he has been working 22 hour days, is tired and simply does not have the time to be aware of all of these issues let alone deal with them. Perhaps that is so. But then should not the FA allocate extra resources (which they clearly have – since April 2015 alone they have generated a tidy new income stream from the ridiculously ill-thought out intermediary system which would comfortably pay for a number of salaries to assist those overworked executives)? And whilst the FA continually fail to investigate and enforce those matters which do require evidence to be uncovered, one would have thought given their lack of time or resource (or sleep) they would jump at those matters where others have done all the hard work for them. But, regularly, they do not.

The reality, I fear, is that this is not about executives being over-worked or the resources not being available. This is about an organisation that is unwilling to shake the roots of its tree, for fear of what will fall out. This is an organisation that wishes to hear no evil, so it can see no evil.

Related Posts

This website is strictly for over 18’s. If you do have any concerns about gambling please contact GambleAware
© 2023 The Gambling Times. All rights reserved.