Culture secretary Andy Burnham, has called for the English FA to follow in the footsteps of Spain and Germany, and put the ownership of football clubs in the hands of their fans.
Andy Burnham – Secretary of Culture
Given the terrible situation at Newcastle United right now, we think this story is worth more than a cursory look.
As more English clubs are being bought up by rich owners, Burnham has called on the Football Association to do something about the future, and the obvious dominance of the richest clubs, who are monopolizing the Premier League.
The top four clubs have been unchanged in the Premier league for quite a few years now, and it’s so difficult for other teams to mount a challenge. As Kevin Keegan so rightly pointed out in May, the best players will always choose to go to the top four clubs, so where’s the long term competition in that?
There will need to be a salary or wage cap soon on Premier League clubs, as they have implemented in the US, so that the richest clubs, like Chelsea and now Manchester City, cannot just go out and buy a team, and have an enormous wage bill, and pay out about £200M, or more, in doing that.
In a speech to the Cooperative Party conference in Westminster, Burnham said he was getting increasingly concerned at the big-money takeovers, most recently seen at Manchester City.
“If football follows the same path in the next 10 years as it has in the last, there is a real risk that the game will lose touch with its core support,”
“We need to ask urgently what we want for the future of our game, before something precious is lost.”
Burnham is an advocate of clubs being owned by their supporters – which is in place at Barcelona in Spain, and is eager for that model to be implemented in England.
We’re sure a lot of Newcastle supporters would be willing to participate in owning their famous club, so that it would take away the power of current owner Mike Ashley, who has managed to go directly against the fans’ wishes by not doing everything he could to keep Kevin Keegan at the club, and siding with Dennis Wise instead.
Burnham believes it is the English FA who have the responsibility for getting this going, but if the English FA is truly responsible, that’s bad news, because it takes them years to even think about something, let alone actually get something done.
“Regulation has to be led by the FA – it is not for the government to run football,”
“I want the FA to step up to the challenge and lead an in-depth look at regulating the finance of football, for the overall health of the game.”
“Professional football has its origins in the community and community organizations.” “Those origins built the fierce loyalty in clubs, with supporters seeing the clubs as expressions of their identity.”
“That loyalty is actually what makes the clubs so marketable but in marketing them there is a real risk of eroding their place in the community.”
An FA spokesman said that the governing body’s chairman, Lord Triesman, agrees that clubs must not abandon their basic roots, in pursuit of riches at any cost:
“Lord Triesman met with Andy Burnham to discuss some of the biggest issues facing the game, including fit and proper ownership of clubs and the development of home-grown talent,”
“Like Andy he firmly believes that clubs must preserve their links with their communities, and shares concerns if clubs are being bought for their short-term investment value rather than their long-term success.”
“These issues, and the need to reconsider football’s regulatory framework in this area, are very high on the chairman’s list of priorities.”
Mike Ashley has talked about allowing Newcastle fans to buy some of the club, but of course, that would do no good in the current situation, because Mike would still keep enough of the club to exert full control over all decisions.
And we shouldn’t hold our breath on Anil Albani coming in and buying Newcastle United anytime soon, because Sky Sports News has been reporting today that the Billionaire is no longer interested because of the turmoil ongoing at Newcastle. That’s not good news.
But hey, maybe we can take Hull City apart 6-0 tomorrow afternoon.
We need some good news from somewhere – that’s for sure.