For all intents and purposes football fans are the lifeblood of the game — but sometimes they can be a little misguided.
The independent regulator that is coming down the tracks is a result of a pre-ordained fan-led review. Somehow, fans have convinced themselves they need an independent body to regulate the very thing they wanted in the first place — a free-for-all.
They wanted clubs to spend as much money as they could, wanted the best players and best managers and wanted it to be done with proper management — but when it comes to proper management, they don’t like it.
It may not be a popular view but proper management is what Daniel Levy does at Tottenham. He refuses to spend more than they have and parts of the fanbase wanted him out because of it. Now fans want an independent regulator because apparently the game needs it. They can’t have it both ways.
Fans really just want to know their club is run well — but that means doing it within the confines of its finances. The problem for any owner adhering to that principle is they are accused of lacking ambition and told to ‘get out of my club’ so they can be replaced with the next saviour.
Fans want Daniel Levy out for refusing to spend more than Tottenham have and now fans want an independent regulator because the game ‘needs it’ – though they can’t have it both ways
Man United fans vilified Man City for their ownership but would be happy to welcome Qatari investment at Old Trafford
Manchester United fans vilified and ridiculed Manchester City for their ownership but would be only too happy to welcome Qatari investment at Old Trafford. It’s all so hypocritical.
No other industry operates on the principle of its governance being steeped in how much you are allowed to lose. Football has always been propped up by a never-never land of other people’s cash.
Someone will always come along and plug the gap and that means the financial wherewithal of a club doesn’t need to be priced in to anyone’s thinking because some other visionary is going to come along and buy it.
I have always been massively against independent regulators. In most industries, regulation doesn’t work. It doesn’t help the things that people think it does, but simply creates extra levels of bureaucracy.
No industry does well with an independent regulator because most of the time they are political appointments. They may be independent to the game but they are not independent of outside bias — the main independence they have is from common sense.
In addition to the huge layers of bureaucracy and cost implications that are funded by the industry, regulators are generally not very effective and aren’t commercially adept or able to deliver the intended outcomes.
We have the best domestic league and our national team is doing well, so what is it really we need to regulate?
Let’s be clear: regulators create new regulations. Is that what we want — an industry tied up in knots with unnecessary over- regulation? Are we suggesting a political appointment made up of the same sort of people making a mess of most aspects of our country is in some way a good thing? Football isn’t the NHS!
Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville has been one of the most vocal in calling for an independent regulator
Nothing comes without jeopardy, it’s part of the fabric and uniqueness of sport, hence we have relegation.
I took a £50million chance with my money on the jeopardy of running Crystal Palace for 10 years. I missed it by inches — the width of a post in the play-off semi-final against Bristol City — and may have been a billionaire now. I missed, lost a lot of money and the club went on and others made fortunes. It is this jeopardy that creates the intrigue.
Other leagues around Europe must be looking at us as if we are demented.
What are we trying to regulate our football into? The opportunity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and put it in the hands of a bunch of mealy-mouthed politicians and accountants creating a Frankenstein of a regulator? There are only two issues that could be viewed as requiring an independent regulator — governance and the distribution of TV revenues.
There are now far more robust checks and balances on sustainability and who can own clubs so while they are still marking their own homework, they have addressed that issue.
Distribution is a far thornier one. The game is eating itself and the reality is players’ salaries are increasing, spend patterns are increasing and the distribution isn’t being addressed.
Until recently, there has been no incentive to provide a fairer distribution of revenue. Transfers, salaries and ownership models could all be unwound by an independent regulator, so it would be like turkeys voting for Christmas if Premier League clubs agreed to a smaller share of the pie.
The Premier League is the best domestic league, yet people are saying it needs to be regulated
But they may have to. The Premier League currently passes nine per cent of its revenues to the EFL who, somewhat optimistically, want 30 per cent. I believe 20 per cent would be fairer and would transform the finances of the 72 clubs in the EFL while perhaps arresting the endless salary increases in the Premier League, thus making little difference to the bottom line of clubs.
The risk is that the regulator could get busy and insist on 40 per cent — and all of a sudden, the broadcast deals wouldn’t pay enough to sustain Premier League clubs’ current operations. So get this sorted before that scenario arises.
If they do, there is no need for an independent regulator. If the two key issues are resolved, what would they be getting involved in, the price of hot dogs? The raft of bureaucracy and regulation will stifle the free-flowing, irresistible force that is English football as the regulator busily creates a reason for its existence.
The very fact one is perceived to be required is hugely embarrassing for the FA. They should be the de facto regulator but are so weak and incompetent.
They have abdicated all responsibility and allowed the tail to wag the dog with the Premier League effectively running English football. Not satisfied with their negligence on that front, the FA’s latest epiphany is to sell FA Cup broadcast rights to the Premier League.
So if the FA aren’t running the game and running it properly, what are they here for? If it’s just international football then they should be disbanded and turned into a different organisation that has far fewer cost implications and structure.
Premier League clubs need this issue sorted. The introduction of an independent regulator could have untold consequences and there would be little sympathy for the clubs who had ample opportunity to head the off the law of unintended consequences that comes with one.
Chris Sutton is wrong over Heckingbottom
Sheffield United‘s thrashing at the hands of Newcastle on Sunday was humiliating and degrading and the performance from certain players unacceptable.
But I don’t agree with Chris Sutton’s view – put forward on Mail Sport’s It’s All Kicking Off podcast – that Paul Heckingbottom was lucky to still be in a job on Monday morning.
If you’re a pragmatic owner that’s working in conjunction with your manager, you’re going to see this as an aberration and while you don’t expect to lose 8-0 at home, what you would expect is a reaction.
You don’t need to be reactionary or to say anything to your manager apart from: ‘Not too many more of those thank you very much’. The result and performance was unacceptable but the manager would know that!
Paul Heckingbottom’s side suffered their biggest defeat of the year with an 8-0 thrashing
Chris Sutton said that Heckingbottom was lucky to still be in a job on Monday morning
Heckingbottom faced the press to discuss the ramifications and reality of the result and that’s about as long and short and tall as I would look at it. If it was a trend – we’re six games into the season – and you don’t believe the guy is capable of operating in the Premier League, then you have a decision to make.
I did after a Crystal Palace defeat at Wigan. I sacked our manager Steve Kember directly afterwards. I could see the team was falling apart and it culminated in a 5-0 smashing. The game was on TV and I received a text from the former Millwall owner Theo Paphitis telling me to stay calm as he could see I was about to spontaneously combust in the stands.
I managed to keep it together, even if Dave Whelan delightedly told me my team was the worst he’d ever seen. Seven months later we pipped Wigan to a place in the play-offs and won promotion. You have to laugh – and I did