An open letter to the FA, Premier League, the Football League, the PFA and the LMA

Posted on March 25th, 2010 · Filed under News

The message is simple. If you want to protect and progress our national game, it is time for wholesale reform. The plight of Portsmouth has brought to the wider public eye the issues that have been prevalent throughout the professional and semi professional game for several years. Whatever the public message from the clubs, much of the game is poorly led and operating on a short term false economy.

Should the pressure being put on BskyB by Ofcom come to fruition, there will undoubtedly be less money in the game in the next five years. Are you willing to wait until that happens before you begin significant reform of how the game is governed and more importantly how it is led?

The focus during this World Cup year should be largely on the progress of the national team and those players who will be striving in the summer to bring the ultimate success for English Football. Instead the media focus is on the fact the sport’s governing body has yet another Chief Executive – along with the accusations and counter accusations that another change brings. While some attention has been given to the wonderful form of the likes of Wayne Rooney and James Milner, many more column inches have been given to the misconduct of various high profile players, including England’s John Terry and Ashley Cole, England U21 international Andy Carroll and several more. While you shouldn’t be expected to be responsible for the private lives of players, governing bodies should be expected to show leadership in their public response to the damage these action causes our national sport.

While I am well aware that there a number of people in the ranks of your organisations who are striving to create change, those of us involved in the game from a business perspective as well as the players, coaches and the public also know the resistance to change is huge. Of course this isn’t just true of English football, but weren’t we the original trailblazers of the game? Isn’t it time to be world leaders again, at least in how we manage, lead and prepare our game for the next decade?

While I have serious doubts as to whether there are enough real leaders in your organisations to create significant change before you are forced to, here is Success In Football’s six point plan to safeguard the current product, as well as improving the standard of the game as a whole.

You are in hugely privileged positions; holding the future of the England’s national sport in your hands. You enjoy the perks and benefits that many others would love to have. It is time to take the responsibility that the position creates.

The Six Point Plan

  1. A complete review of the structure of the FA as an organisation. The end product of this restructuring must be a more agile governing body that is able to make decisions in the best interest of the game at an appropriate pace. This by nature will include a significant reduction in the number of committees required to make decisions.
  2. A complete revamp of the education available to everyone involved in the game. In reality coaching qualifications have barely changed for at least the last fifteen years. In addition, the fact that each body has its own approach to educating its members shows the current programmes do not deliver what is required. The output must be an integrated development path for players, coaches, managers, officials and even club administrators.
  3. An agreement on the areas of control and influence for each of the bodies. While this may be a huge challenge, until there is agreement on what is ‘in scope’ and ‘out of scope’ for each body, the politically driven ‘holding back’ of the game will continue.
  4. A shared vision for the future of the game to be agreed by the bodies to ensure that everyone is striving for the same goals. This will be underpinned by performance measurement throughout the governing bodies.
  5. Football as a whole to develop a formal approach to learning from other sports and entertainment industries and sectors. While I am sure that Richard Bevan would not admit it publicly, the stark contrast even between cricket and football in England must have been a shock. While there have been some attempts to integrate ideas from other countries and their sports it has been largely haphazard and badly thought through.
  6. The safeguarding and development of the sport is put firmly at the heart of the activities of the bodies. The FA, PFA and LMA in particular must hold this to be true in their strategy and operations. This does not mean that financial success is forgone. Instead future rewards and success will be assured.

If you are involved in the game and see this plan as impossible then all the more reason to create pressure for those with the gift of power to take action. In order for the current levels of wealth to continue and for the English game to be re-established as a global leader, significant changes must begin now.

Richard Nugent
Managing Director
Success In Football Ltd.

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