|Football's Financial Crisis|
Written by Stowmarket on Friday, 16th Aug 2019 19:15
I have been watching English football for over 40 years, from top-tier to non-league. In that time it has faced many low points, including mass hooliganism and stadium deaths in tragedies such as Hillsborough and Valley Parade.
However, in financial terms, I cannot recall a summer like it. The world’s oldest professional club, Notts County, faced the genuine prospect of liquidation. Bury and Bolton fans knew that they would be beginning the new season on -12 points, however, it seemed entirely possible that they might not start the campaign at all. These clubs, and others such as Macclesfield, have not even been paying staff and players’ wages.
As a supporter of Northampton Town and Ipswich Town – clubs which have suffered from financial meltdowns of their own – I feel great sympathy for the supporters of these clubs. At the same time, you have to question whether there is a level playing field.
While Bury attracted players in League Two last season, with large salary offers they were never going to be able to meet, other clubs which were run with financial prudence, missed out on promotion. Some people would argue that Bury’s on-field success constitutes cheating.
There are club owners in the EFL cutting corners in order to gain an advantage on the pitch. This has been going on for many years. What is being done to prevent this? Sweet FA I would suggest, pun fully intended.
For many years I lived and worked in France, watching football all over that vast country. Over there the DNCG is an organisation which polices the finances of football clubs. On an annual basis, each club has to submit a dossier with its budget for the forthcoming season and accounts proving that it can operate properly.
The DNCG has the power to cap a club’s wages, introduce a transfer embargo, demote a club or – in the most extreme cases – expel a club.
And that's not an empty threat. In recent years, a number of clubs have been sent into the wilderness of regional, part-time football, including Tours FC this summer, the club where both Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny made their names.
These sanctions might sound draconian but they are there to ensure that a football club does not get away with breaking rules. The DNCG organisation is there to defend the morals of competitive, professional football. It has a vital public mission to play. Without it the footballing public would lack confidence in its professional game.
The existence and role of the DNCG is hardly rocket science. It seems appalling and inexcusable that the English game – its authorities (the FA and EFL) have far money at their disposal than their French equivalent, the LFP – does so little in comparison. Radical reform is long overdue.
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