Football
The UK government has told the Football Association that it does not like its performance. Apparently it is not doing enough to advance the women’s game and for youth development, amongst other things. The FA is a private organisation. Politicians might not understand how such powerful bodies, that achieve so much in society, and which are not motivated by profit, become so large and important without them being created and managed by politicians and government bureuacrats. But, the fact is that they do. The government has no right to comment in any way whatsoever on the performance of the FA.

The government might argue that the FA is a powerful body with quasi-monopoly status. This is certainly not true. Apart from the other UK football associations, there are other bodies concerned with the management of football in the UK. And, if women are not happy with the promotion of their game by the FA then they are perfectly entitled to set up their own voluntary body and could, I am sure, easily do so. It was not long ago that the top clubs left the Football League and joined a league organised by the FA instead.

It seems that the only bargaining chip that the government has – indeed the only justification for its comments – could be the £25m grant that it provides. Personally, I think that the FA should tell the government it can keep its money. However, even if this grant entitles the government to a say in how that particular sum of money is spent it entitles them to no more.

The FA responded with: “The issues raised by the original questions and the Minister’s response represent important challenges to the game at all levels. They merit careful thought and a proper response with football working together in partnership.” The issues raised may or may not be “important challenges”. They may or may not merit “careful thought”. But, under no circumstances should the FA give a “proper response”, still less should it work in partnership with the government. I would like to think that I can kick a sphere around (if I wished to do so) without the government interfering.

Philip Booth 154x154

Academic and Research Director, IEA

Philip Booth is Academic and Research Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs and Professor of Finance, Public Policy and Ethics at St. Mary's University, Twickenham. From 2002-2015 he was Professor of Insurance and Risk Management at Cass Business School. Previously, Philip Booth worked for the Bank of England as an advisor on financial stability issues and he was also Associate Dean of Cass Business School and held various other academic positions at City University. He has written widely, including a number of books, on investment, finance, social insurance and pensions as well as on the relationship between Catholic social teaching and economics. He is Deputy Editor of Economic Affairs and on the editorial boards of various other academic journals. Philip is a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and an honorary member of the Society of Actuaries of Poland. He has previously worked in the investment department of Axa Equity and Law and was been involved in a number of projects to help develop actuarial professions and actuarial, finance and investment professional teaching programmes in Central and Eastern Europe. Philip has a BA in Economics from the University of Durham and a PhD from City University.

4 thoughts on “The FA should show government the red card”

  1. Posted 27/09/2009 at 10:53 | Permalink

    When I was at school I seem to remember an acronym MYOB — standing for ‘Mind Your Own Business’. Could this be resurrected and aimed at governments, quangos, etc.? Should a write-in campaign be organised? Or what about MYOB stickers to plaster over official announcements?

    How long ago it now seems since Sir Geoffrey Howe, then a newly-appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1979, flabbergasted a television interviewer who asked him what the government was going to do about something or other, by replying: “Nothing: it’s none of our business.” Not words one would ever hear from Gordon Brown!

  2. Posted 27/09/2009 at 10:53 | Permalink

    When I was at school I seem to remember an acronym MYOB — standing for ‘Mind Your Own Business’. Could this be resurrected and aimed at governments, quangos, etc.? Should a write-in campaign be organised? Or what about MYOB stickers to plaster over official announcements?

    How long ago it now seems since Sir Geoffrey Howe, then a newly-appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1979, flabbergasted a television interviewer who asked him what the government was going to do about something or other, by replying: “Nothing: it’s none of our business.” Not words one would ever hear from Gordon Brown!

  3. Posted 28/09/2009 at 13:49 | Permalink

    The government has previous on this – in a recent blog I discussed Andy Burnham’s attempt to lay down the law to the Premier League.

    My namesake, Len Shackleton the Sunderland and England footballer, wrote a famous autobiography with a chapter containing a blank page, headed “the average director’s knowledge of football”. The “average politician’s knowledge of football” (despite poses such as Tony Blair’s pretence of having seen Jackie Milburn play) would encompass many more blank pages.

  4. Posted 28/09/2009 at 13:49 | Permalink

    The government has previous on this – in a recent blog I discussed Andy Burnham’s attempt to lay down the law to the Premier League.

    My namesake, Len Shackleton the Sunderland and England footballer, wrote a famous autobiography with a chapter containing a blank page, headed “the average director’s knowledge of football”. The “average politician’s knowledge of football” (despite poses such as Tony Blair’s pretence of having seen Jackie Milburn play) would encompass many more blank pages.

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