Today the English Labour MP Alison McGovern has a piece in The Guardian calling for a football regulator south of the border.
Think of this as a follow-on from what I was talking about last week before our AGM; football down there is a mess and it is a matter of time before a host of clubs go to the wall, and this is even with domestic financial fair play.
But the game down there is so badly skewed and so corrupt, with too many foreign owners of dodgy standing, and fans being excluded and alienated, that people have decided that enough is enough. The top flight is particularly awful. The news that certain Chelsea season tickets are going up in price by a mind-bending 300% next season is only part of it.
Their “average” season ticket is already £1200. Soon enough some fans will be looking at paying out nearly £4000. That surely can’t go on. The average supporter is being locked out completely, reducing the whole thing to a fat-cat’s spectacle.
The whole game is heading that way. We have corporatist owners ourselves.
Desmond’s ambition, for years, was to get us into that league and we wouldn’t be watching games from £500 per season seats if he had. Working class Glaswegians would need to find three times that to watch their team. Ibrox prices are already heading into the stratosphere … and they’ll need to become more expensive again if they are ever going to catch up to us financially.
English football is finally going to get a dedicated regulator with a wide remit to protect both fans and clubs from the consequences of years of insanity. It needs it. But then English football could and should have had that years ago; the FA is almost a public body down there. When our so-called governors were told to appear before the Scottish Parliament their contempt couldn’t have been clearer. The FA is accountable. The SFA never has been but should be.
If there is one thing we’ve learned on this island these past ten years, it is that football is utterly incapable of policing itself. The clubs will never seriously entertain reform until it is forced on them. Scottish football has needed it for a long time, but nobody wants to lead the endeavour, not even the most powerful club in the land.
Two of our directors- including the chairman – lost an AGM vote in midweek but none was removed because the club isn’t controlled by the ordinary shareholders but according to the whims of one man who, on paper, only has 30% of the shares. A regulator would protect the small shareholders from that and a lot of other things besides.
The Scottish Parliament has never really debated a regulator for Scottish football and a lot of people would be opposed to one if they did, but it’s an idea whose time has just about come. Independent scrutiny of football in Scotland is just what the doctor ordered. If the game itself is not prepared to take this stuff seriously, someone has to.
This is a debate that the clubs should be having. More than that, it’s a debate that the fans should be having. In England the debate is over. The Premier League has up-ended all the old certainties and refuses to get its house in order. Prices and wages continue to skyrocket along with the TV deals that make the whole game down there lop-sided.
And it has to end sometime. It cannot go on as it is right now. They get that, which is why some in football would even like to see these reforms. No matter, they have support in the only place that actually matters; in Westminster, where there is cross-party support for the idea. It is coming and the only question is what form it will take.
In Scotland the only question is what will it take until it comes here?
The collapse of another club? Two clubs? Five? Ten?
Another existential threat to the whole sport?
Wouldn’t it be better to have the conversation before that happens?