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MPs Demand Overhaul Of English Football

Wembley faces calls to reform.

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Members of Parliament have demanded English football is completely reformed to curb debt levels and to improve the national team.

With the new season just two weeks away, a Culture, Media and Sport Committee report has criticised the country’s governing bodies for not preventing this crisis earlier.

The Football Association, Premier League and Football League are all blasted for allowing bad business to prevail and not being more open on matters surrounding ownership and finances.

“No one doubts the success of the Premier League in revitalizing English football, but it has been accompanied by serious financial problems throughout the Football League pyramid,” committee chairman John Whittingdale said.

“Significant changes need to be made to the way the game is run to secure the future of England’s unique football heritage, and the economic and community benefits it provides.”

The takeover of Manchester United in 2005 was particularly scrutinised after Red Devils chief executive David Gill defended the club’s finances.

The club was debt free before the Glazer family took ownership using £220million of high-interest loans

“Within a football context, the leveraged buyout appears to be a particularly risky vehicle with little obvious benefit,” said the legislators.

The report said some of the financial problems would be combatted by introducing a formal licensing system for clubs that complements Uefa’s financial fair play regulations.

Clubs wanting to play in European competitions must comply with Uefa rules designed to curb spending on players by persistent loss-makers.

The three divisions below the topflight — run by the Football League — have already adopted them.

“While we acknowledge that financial regulations have been tightened of late,” the report says,

“We are not convinced the new rules recently adopted by both the Premier League and the Football League are by themselves sufficient to curb English football’s excesses.”

The report recommends the FA to do more to tackle these problems, but urges the governing body to get its “own house in order” by removing “vested interests” from its board.

The report also addressed the failings of the England national team, which has not won the World Cup since 1966 and will be searching for another coach next year when Fabio Capello leaves.

The House of Commons members urged the FA to spend more on grass roots football and coaching education.

“The development of technical expertise in coaching is central to the future of the game in England,” they said.

“There appears to be clear evidence of historic drift that has left England far behind its main European competitors.”

The report concluded that “as a last resort” the government should introduce legislation to force to the FA to implement governance changes.

“It’s clear that no change in the areas of governance, financial regulation, transparency and the involvement of supporters is not an option,” sports minister Hugh Robertson said in a statement.

“There is a moment here for the football authorities to respond positively and decisively to both the content and spirit of the report and we will be working with them to achieve this.”

The Premier League, whose top executives gave evidence to the committee, said it would consider the report’s recommendations before responding fully.

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