Football: Banks takes the game to task

THE Minister for Sport Tony Banks has warned football that unless it begins to put its house in order, the Government will do so. Speaking after the first public forum of the "Task Force" in Leicester, chaired by David Mellor, Banks insisted that the government would act on its recommendations on the issues under investigation, including racism, ticket pricing and more supporter involvement in the running of clubs.

"How can you say that the Task Force looks toothless?" Banks replied when such criticism was put to him. "It's an advisory not an executive body but it has got access to the very top of government. If the Premiership clubs are half-way decent they should be seeing the straws in the wind and act before government does."

Banks says that the Government is looking for "hard-edged, radical proposals" before deciding how to proceed. One idea Mellor may present, which has been advanced by supporters' groups, is a regulatory body such as exists in the gas and telecommunications industries, to control prices and recommend good practice. "Called Offside, perhaps," Mellor said.

At the end of a week which has seen Brian Clough, among others, charged with misconduct as a result of the "bungs" inquiry, Banks added that he was keen that the FA implement Sir John Smith's idea, following his report into the game's finances, that a monitoring and compliance unit should be set up. "The FA has said it is not a police force," said Banks. "Well we are."

Task Force duty, page 19