DTB MEMBER NIALL COUPER DISCUSSES FAIR GAME’S SUSTAINABILITY INDEX.
I gotta apologise today. Normally I like to get to the ground an hour or two before kick-off. But today it was a case of sprinting through the gates to make kick off.
It was a calling, your ‘onour.
I was doing my bit to try and radically change the way football is run in England and Wales – I was on a Zoom call with MPs launching Fair Game’s Sustainability Index.
Now I realise Christmas and New Year has just gone, so you can be forgiven for forgetting all about Fair Game.
Fair Game is a Dons Trust initiative that has spiralled massively to become a leading light in the battle to change football for the better.
We now have 34 value-driven football clubs as members (Pompey fans have words with Andrew Cullen I know he’d love to sign up, it’s a no brainer Andy!), over 50 experts drafting policy papers and the active support of over 30 MPs.
Now in case you’ve been on a different planet over the last few years, football governance and the way the game is structured in our professional leagues hasn’t really been working well (understatement of the century).
Clubs are routinely spending more on players’ wages than they earn, putting at risk decades of history and tradition in the pursuit of the Siren Call of the Premier League.
Football’s so-called elite put two fingers up to the very essence of our National Game – the pyramid structure that allows even the smallest of club to dream a dream – with their ill-fated European Super League adventure.
Then there’s been the financial mismanagement that has seen 31 clubs in England’s top four divisions going into administration since the turn of the century and the collapse of Bury and Macclesfield.
The ‘crown jewels’ of football clubs, the name, the badge and even the location of where they play, have been threatened by owners with scant regard for the true custodians of football, the fans. Cardiff City, the Bluebirds, playing in red. Hull City being renamed the Tigers and of course our own ridiculous experience here with that town in Buckinghamshire.
All of those issues need to be addressed and stopped. The recent fan-led review by Tracey Crouch came to the same conclusion and crucially also insisted that the only way to do so is to deal with them all and not cherry pick.
We agree, but how do you do that? That’s where the magic of the Sustainability Index comes in.
The Index is a pretty simple concept. Look at the wealth in football and use it to incentivise good behaviour at football clubs.
There are two potential sources of income: A new transfer levy on Premier League Clubs, which the Fan-Led Review believes would raise £160m a year, and the flawed parachute payments, which see Premier League dropouts raking in a whopping £250m a year between them each year.
If we just look at the parachute payments themselves. That £250m could pay for…
– A new bar and new toilets.
– A National League 3G standard pitch.
– A Category 3 academy for a year.
– An Award-winning community programme for a year.
For 36 clubs!
Or eight new 10,000 all-seater top of the range stadiums each year.
The Index says put all that money in a pot and give to those clubs that score highly on four criteria:
– Financial sustainability.
– Good governance.
– Equality standards.
– Real fan and community engagement.
And ring-fence most of it to academies, infrastructure and community engagement. It is a win-win for football.
– Better engagement and facilities leads to more fans and more sustainable revenue.
– Stronger academies leads to better players and ultimately a stronger national team.
– And it all leads to a growth in popularity of the National Game.
But all of this is moot without the backing of politicians, which was why I was late today. It only comes in with an independent regulator and government legislation. And that’s why we need MPs to back us and support the Fan-Led Review.
The Review gave us the ingredients. The Sustainability Index is the method. It is now up to politicians to serve it up.
Check out www.fairgameuk.org/contact-your-mp for a step-by-step guide on how you can do your bit. It is now or never time.