Com­pe­tence exam could halt re­bel­lion

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE ONE -

THEY held an open meet­ing in Black­burn on Thurs­day af­ter the sup­port­ers’ trust called for the­board of direc­tors to quit and the BRFC Ac­tion Group de­manded Venky’s sell up. In Not­ting­ham, owner Fawaz Al Ha­sawi was asked by For­est’s sup­port­ers’ trust to ex­plain what is hap­pen­ing at the two-time Euro­pean cham­pi­ons. And, in Black­pool, an on­go­ing ‘eth­i­cal protest’ ex­tends to ask­ing away fans not to con­trib­ute to club cof­fers.

Then there are Leeds United and New­cas­tle United, Charl­ton Ath­letic and Ful­ham, Coven­try City and Ley­ton Ori­ent, all clubs where fans are ei­ther in open re­volt or, at the very least, won­der­ing if their owner has a Scooby about run­ning a foot­ball club.


When you get a new job, the like­li­hood is there will be some form of train­ing pro­vided, even if it is just an in­duc­tion course. When you take the kids to try some­thing dif­fer­ent, an in­struc­tor will run through the ba­sics. If you want to be a foot­ball coach, there are badges to be earned be­fore you are al­lowed any­where near an academy.

But, as­sum­ing you have enough cash and are not proven to be a crim­i­nal, any­one can buy a foot­ball club and im­me­di­ately be­gin tak­ing de­ci­sions that af­fect the daily lives of thou­sands of peo­ple.

Some peo­ple get it right. They take good ad­vice, hire ex­perts and learn swiftly. Think of Tony Bloom at Brighton, Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones at Nor­wich and, though it is early days, Kelvin Thomas at Northamp­ton and Dean Holdsworth’s con­sor­tium at Bolton. Oth­ers...well, let’s start with the well-mean­ing but naive, such as Tony Fer­nan­des.

Most QPR fans ap­pear to sup­port Fer­nan­des, who is clearly am­bi­tious for the club and has in­vested heav­ily in it. But, largely through lis­ten­ing to the wrong peo­ple, he has made some ex­pen­sive er­rors. So, too, Venky’s, though they seem in­ca­pable of learn­ing from their mis­takes.

Then there are the chair­men who do know some­thing about foot­ball, but not as much as they think they do. They might lack ex­pe­ri­ence of the English game, or pa­tience, or plain com­mon sense. The Ital­ians run­ning Leeds and Ley­ton Ori­ent would seem to fall into this cat­e­gory, along with Roland Duchatelet at Charl­ton.

Plus there are peo­ple who you sim­ply won­der why on earth they bought a foot­ball club, like SISU at Coven­try, Shahid Khan at Ful­ham and An­ton Zin­gare­vich’s short ten­ure at Read­ing. The prospect of mak­ing more money is ob­vi­ously a mo­ti­va­tion for many, but they swiftly dis­cover foot­ball clubs can lose money too.

The fis­cal re­wards of get­ting into the Premier League are ob­vi­ous (though Black­burn, QPR, Ful­ham and New­cas­tle were, of course, in the top flight when their cur­rent own­ers bought them), but the un­pre­pared­ness of many own­ers is alarm­ing.

The EFL’s own­ers’ and direc­tors’ test as­sesses whether a ‘rel­e­vant per­son’ (ie, some­one in a po­si­tion of power within a club) is hon­est. What is does not do is mea­sure if they are com­pe­tent. It should do. While the EFL, which has had enough le­gal prob­lems ap­ply­ing the own­ers’ and direc­tors’ test, no­tably with Mas­simo Cellino, is un­likely to wish to ex­tend its re­mit, there is a des­per­ate need to do so.

The own­ers’ and direc­tors’ test is there, ac­cord­ing to the EFL, “to pro­tect the im­age and in­tegrity of the League and its com­pe­ti­tions, the well-be­ing of the clubs and the in­ter­ests of all of the stake­hold­ers in those clubs”. Surely the in­com­pe­tence shown by many own­ers dam­ages the im­age and in­tegrity of the League, and the in­ter­ests of the­fans.


The com­pe­tence test would check ba­sic knowl­edge of foot­ball and its ad­min­is­tra­tion, play­ing and man­age­rial con­tracts, the trans­fer mar­ket, agents, etc. Maybe, with spe­cial ref­er­ence to some named above, it might even ask: ‘Did you know your club can be rel­e­gated?’ Those fail­ing would have to com­mit to a course of in­struc­tion at two lev­els: a ba­sic test for any new owner and an ad­vanced one, which ei­ther the owner or his key ex­ec­u­tive would have to pass.

Will it hap­pen? Not in the im­me­di­ate fu­ture. But for more than a cen­tury there was no test.

All it needs is some strong and far­sighted lead­er­ship of the League. So, not any time soon.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

SMART MOVE? Chris Mar­tin has left Derby for Ful­ham on a sea­son’s loan AMONG the many dead­line­day in deals, one stood out the Cham­pi­onship: Chris sea­son­long Mar­tin to Ful­ham on a the loan from Derby. As­sum­ing war break­ing club can pre­vent civil staff and out be­tween coach­ing scores goals an­a­lysts, Mar­tin, who and makes them for play­ers make around him, could soon fans for­get the loss of Ross McCor­mack.

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