Most reasonable people would accept, that almost everything that could be done regarding England’s World Cup bid was done, and that FIFA needs fundamental reform.
However, the Football Association, undermines its case for change in FIFA, by failing to put its own house in order. If FIFA is to become more transparent and open, then so must the FA too.
For a number of months now – I have argued that the current constitution of the FA is failing English football and fans in general.
In June, I tabled a Commons motion calling for the FA board to resign following the England World Cup debacle. The Motion called for a democratic revolution, led by the fans, to transform football governance in our country.
The real obstacle to footballing success is the failed managers, failed contracts and the failed payouts — some say that it is up to £50 million or £60 million in recent years — of the Football Association itself.
The organisation enjoys a virtual monopoly over the sport. It is a semi-public body and its activities are of great public concern, so the public must have some means of redress.
The FA board is run like a Byzantine court, with decisions being made like puffs of white smoke appearing from the rooftops. Currently, its board is not democrat, and it is not even bureaucratically accountable to any outside body. There needs to be complete overhaul of the way the FA is run – so that the organisation can become truly accountable to England fans.
Why not have a form of voting rights that would give England supporters the opportunity to have their say on who should be in charge at the FA? If the FA board can be booted out by the fans, it will start to sit up and listen.
My solution would be the introduction of a paid subscription system — perhaps £50 a year — whereby England fans could exercise voting rights in the FA. This would be similar to a a co-operative shareholding, but limited to one vote for each person.
It would be in the national interest for England fans to be able to vote for the FA board and chairman and to fire them if they did a bad job. Fans could vote for the board and chairman for a three or four-year term. They would also have the right to decide the level of spending on grass-roots and community football, and to vote on the annual budget report.
It is true that the coalition agreement, refers to reforming football governance and institutions so that co-operative ownership models can be established by supporters. But the FA should be included in those reforms and freed from the iron grip of the premier league. As a Conservative, my hope is that the FA would adopt those reforms voluntarily.
Just as the people of this country elect the Government, so the fans should have some say in the state of our national game. I want all England fans to be able to say genuinely that ‘we are all in this together’, and for that to be backed up by real community power.
Enough is enough: if England are to win a major tournament – or gain a major tournament – we cannot go on as we are. To adapt what Abraham Lincoln famously said about democracy, I hope that our Government will lean on the FA and empower our football fans to give this country’s football a new birth of freedom, so that football of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth.