LONDON: MPs in the UK House of Commons have passed a motion of no confidence in the Football Association and its control of the English game.
Sport Minister Tracey Crouch opposed the motion but warned football’s governing body that if they did not agree a series of reforms by April it would not receive government money. She also threatened Government legislation against the FA.
The largely academic motion was passed unanimously but by only the 20 MPs who could bother to be present in the Commons.
FA chairman Greg Clarke has promised to step down if he fails to convince Crouch the governing body is determined to reform itself.
Later he said: “I watched the debate and respect the opinions of the MPs. As previously stated we remain committed to reforming governance at The FA to the agreed timescale of the Minister.”
A statement released on the FA website read: “Today’s Parliamentary debate questions The FA’s governance and our ability to comply fully with our duties as a governing body.
“We accept that our governance needs reform and that many of the points to be raised in today’s debate are valid. We are working hard to meet the Government’s new code for sports bodies and are committed to following their process.
“Our chairman, Greg Clarke, has recently given his view on this [but] we strongly reject the allegation that we are not performing our duties.
“In fact the FA is a not-for-profit organisation that successfully generates enough revenue to support investment of well over £100m a year into football. No other organisation in the world directs that level of annual investment back into one single national sport.
“We believe The FA not only complies fully with its duties as a governing body, but it is comparable with the best governing bodies in the world. This is why: We promote football. We govern the game with integrity. We ensure the compliance of participation. We work to address discrimination. We develop England and grassroots teams.”
In reality the target was not so much the way the FA performs but a governing structure which rewards age above representative ability.
Damian Collins, Conservative MP and chairman of the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee, said the FA has spent the past 50 years talking about reform and called for decisive action.
He said: “We believe now that legislation is the only way in which this can be delivered . . . there has to be external pressure and external action through legislation to achieve it.
“What I’m asking in this debate today is that if the Government is unsuccessful in getting reform from the FA, that a Bill is prepared to be introduced into the next session of Parliament after the Queen’s speech, to deliver the reform the FA so badly needs.”
Labour MP Keith Vaz, whose constituency of Leicester East is home to the Premier League champions Leicester City, hit out at the FA’s lack of diversity.
He said: “It is important that Parliament sends out a message on diversity – a quarter of all professional footballers are black, however only 17 of the 92 top clubs have an ethnic minority person in a senior coaching role.
“It’s important that we send out that message that diversity should be an important part of any reform.”