Chris Lakey: Scudamore exit offers chance; To Russia With Love (from us), plus safe standing...
PUBLISHED: 12:39 08 June 2018 | UPDATED: 12:41 08 June 2018
Dare to dream. That's what they say.
And I am not talking about the World Cup (although dreaming is what I am currently preparing to do).
No, it is the announcement that Richard Scudamore is to leave his role as chief executive of the Premier League which has got me hoping, perhaps against hope, of a brighter future for football. Will we be able to take this news as an opportunity for change?
Football needs it, and it is Scudamore’s excellent work - if you are a Premier League club and, in particular, a member of the Top Six - which has brought the game to this position where the haves actually have a hell of a lot, and the have nots, well, they really haven’t got much at all.
Take the position of Aston Villa, historically one of the country’s big clubs and one which, stature and history-wise, should be expected to be performing in the top flight. Instead, they are paying for chasing success: spending enormous amounts of money following relegation in 2016 in an effort to get back to the Premier League. They failed and now the taxman is chasing them and their owner, Dr Tony Xia, whose funding has dried up as politics back home in China apparently prevent him sending money to the Midlands.
Villa boss Steve Bruce will be told on Monday what his budget is to be. If Bruce doesn’t like it, he may well walk, and Villa will be left trying to convince would-be managers that they are the next Sunderland. There’s always Steve Cotterill of course...
But this is what the Premier League has done: it has put itself and its riches out off the reach of most - and it is becoming ever more difficult for those below the Prem to compete, without taking risks.
The Premier League as, of course, formed in 1992 in part to help produce a better England senior team. At the moment we don’t know if that has worked, even though there has been great success with England youth teams.
As a sop to the EFL, the Prem hand over £100m each year to keep the serfs going. That’s less than four per cent of its TV revenue and it isn’t much different from the sum the bottom club in the table banks so it is hardly going to change anyone’s life is it?
What’s the answer? Well, for starters, Scudamore’s exit is perhaps the right time for the FA to meekly knock on the Premier League door and ask for a clear-the-air chat. The FA gets to do the Prem’s dirty work but that’s about it: its powers have waned and we all know it. But if they roared like one of their highly valued three lions they might be able to effect change.
Clubs at all levels need some sort of compensation for providing the foundation for the top flight, where the big clubs increasingly shop overseas, thus denying English clubs the opportunity of making a decent buck out of selling its best players. Changes to the FA Cup haven’t benefited smaller clubs - but they have helped the big club’s and their congested fixture lists (which would appear to be exclusive to them).
The Premier League’s newest TV deal has seen the top six become even more greedy, at the expense of their fellow top-flight clubs – they will take a bigger share of the cash - wonder how long that particular piece of cannibalism will last?
Non league football needs help – the Prem gives £100m to facilities and community projects. That’s a lot of money. But there are perhaps more than 5,000 clubs to service and, sadly, clubs are regularly closing. This past season the number of games postponed because of bad weather has been incredible. Fakenham Town didn’t even get to finish all their fixtures because they ran out of time.
It’s persuaded me that more clubs need to consider laying plastic pitches: if there is proper financial support as well as advice on how to make the most of out of them, financially , they could help solve a few problems.
It’s all the tip of the iceberg of course, but it really is time for the FA to try and get a bit of football back in its own hands before the Premier League run away with it all, set up shop somewhere in Europe and form another breakaway league. Do that and the game really would be up that creek without a paddle.
On the ball...
Told you a few weeks ago that football never stops didn’t I?
While a lot of clubs have gone into a very short hibernation, the build-up to the World Cup has been in full swing, and here at Archant Towers we have been doing our bit to put together an excellent supplement.
It contains all the essential information: there is an excellent guide to each game plus a look at all 32 teams, group by group, so you can work out who’s going to go through to the knockout stages... and who’s going home.
There’s a guide to Gareth Southgate’s England squad and a look at how the manager himself will set about preparing a team to end all these years of World Cup agony. It’s not all about England, though – what about the unknown quantity that is Iran? And what of the teams and players who aren’t there? Or maybe you fancy a flutter on the Golden Boot winner...that, and more.
It’s in the EDP on Tuesday, with a slimmed down version in Wednesday’s Evening News.
Stand and deliver
Seems perfectly sensible that the Labour Party is backing the introduction of safe standing in the Premier League and Championship, given the game of football has its roots as working class involvement and entertainment.
After far too much dithering the government is to review the all-seater stadium policy – the issue will be debated in Parliament on June 25.
Football is about the excitement of the game, a feeling which is enhanced when supporters are allowed to stand and express their emotions. You cannot do that without standing up - so you pay for your right to watch a game of football but then find yourself restricted by this one rule.
However, whilst I am fully supportive of safe standing, it must also mean seated areas must be strictly ‘policed’ so that the enjoyment of those who choose to sit is not ruined.
Standing fans have ended the fun for those who must remain seated for whatever reason.