A debate was held in the House of Commons on 9th February regarding football governance. A motion of no confidence in the Football Association (FA) was brought forward by Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee Chairman Damian Collins MP. The debate was called as a result of repeated failings by the FA to respond to recommendations made by the Committee regarding board independence, football club financial regulation and diversity of the FA Board and Council. There is just one woman on the fourteen person FA Board and four BAME members on the 122 member FA Council, and recent years have seen the financial ruin of a number of clubs across the league system.
Committee member and Mid Worcestershire MP Nigel Huddleston made a speech during the debate that praised new Chairman Greg Clarke and much of the good work that the FA has done for the national game and for grassroots football, but was scathing about the FA’s inability to reform and become a more representative and effective body. He said:
“We have heard again and again from the FA that they recognise the deficiencies and challenges - and that they intend to change. Yet, change has not come and time is running out. I have a great deal of respect for Greg Clarke, but I get the feeling that his hands are tied and a sense of institutional inertia pervades the governance of football in this country.”
He went on to say that from his perspective “the main purpose of this motion, is as a warning shot across the bow of the FA. This motion on its own will not change the structure of football governance. But the fact we are having the debate will hopefully communicate in no uncertain terms just how important the issue is to MPs and our constituents and instil a sense of urgency within the FA Board and Council.”
There were no mixed signals in his concluding remarks as he reinforced the points made by his Committee colleagues that they would seek to force Government legislation on football governance if positive changes in the FA were not seen soon. He finished his speech by saying “let us be clear: If we have to intervene, we will. Talk, without action, is no longer an option.”
The House passed the motion of no confidence and the onus now falls on the FA to send plans outlining significant proposals for reform to the Sports Minister, Tracey Crouch MP, by the end of March.