Parliament Looks Into Football, And Look What It Sees…

Until now, all official inquiries into what’s wrong with English football governance have foundered in the face of the English Premier League’s latest version of “mind your own business.” But in the first oral evidence session of the Culture, Media and Sport select committee on football governance, contributors were prepared – mentally and practically – to get to the heart of the problem, namely the Premier League’s inflated sense of its own importance. And Lord David Triesman was the best prepared. The two-and-half-hour session didn’t threaten to be high-ratings television, although one suspects the BBC Parliament channel – on which I watched the session this week – would have had lower ratings still for some of the other select committees transmitted (Transport Committee, anyone?). But it was compelling. The first evidence was from the Mail on Sunday newspaper’s feature writer Patrick Collins, former Supporters Direct leading light Sean Hamil, now Birkbeck Sports Business Centre (University of London) leading light and Professor Stefan Szymanski of CASS business school, a “highly-regarded” economist. At least he was “highly-regarded” before he spoke. Two strands of thinking immediately emerged. There was gentle exposure of the economic madness enveloping top-flight English football. And there was the populist, “the Premier League is wonderful, UEFA are not, who needs regulation?” which reinforced every Mail reader and contributor stereotype you could muster. That Collins exposed the madness and...

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