FA game plan aims at world domination

Click to follow
The Independent Online

How better to while away the long hot summer days than toperuse the Football Association Annual Report for 1999 (the "Game Plan") submitted to the May annual general meeting of shareholders.With hindsight, England's poorperformance in the Euro 2000 finals and the disappointing World Cup 2006 vote add piquancy to many of the laudable objectives.

How better to while away the long hot summer days than toperuse the Football Association Annual Report for 1999 (the "Game Plan") submitted to the May annual general meeting of shareholders.With hindsight, England's poorperformance in the Euro 2000 finals and the disappointing World Cup 2006 vote add piquancy to many of the laudable objectives.

The report whose contributors are each identified with theprofessional clubs they support, is huge on planning for the future, which is right in such a big sport which has traditionally beenreactive rather than pro-active and part of that future will be to provide "leading edge services" and tobecome admired as a "leading-edge marketing operation," in"developing the people's game." Does this have a familiar ring? Within year one of the three-year plans, the FA aims to agreeproposals for a national footballadministration system - an IT network that will include a national registration scheme whereby all players at all levels will beregistered on a national database.

We learn that more women now play football than hockey. Allcounty football associations will be required to draw up three-year plans for the development of first-class facilities in partnership with local authorities. The counties will also be helped to continue their development of women's and girls' football with a view to the establishment of the firstnational professional league in three years.

Much work to be done herebecause few parents would want their daughters to sample thedubious pleasure of parks such as Wormwood Scrubs in WestLondon, which is never less than cold and unwelcoming.

A network of 3,000 superclubs is envisaged, each with a range of teams representing all age groups, both sexes, from juniors to veterans.

In year one, a customer services plan which will act as a response centre handling queries and feedback from supporters will beimplemented. Included, will be a programme of research surveys. We learn that the aim is to make the FA the central source of information and research material in Britain.

There would be, says the game plan, a range of opportunities to "promote English football throughout the Euro 2000 tournament" the main opportunity no doubt being a demonstration of advocacy skills as to why we should not be sent home packing because of the hooligan fringe who don't even merit amention in the game plan.

Surely "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" has a nice ring to it? Missing, too, is any reference to discipline on the field of play,surprising in view of the recentannouncement that points will be deducted from clubs next season.

Among the FA's commercial aims is to make the FA website (www.the-fa.org) the most visited football site in Europe.

Plans for a national footballcentre will be addressed with a view to winning the World Cup by 2006.

Yet again, talks will be initiated with a view to the introduction ofprofessional coaching licences and mandatory coaching qualifications.

The news that the FA Cup third round will return to its traditional date in January concludes a fascinating mix of ambitious objectives, all set out in the inclusive language style of the modern marketeer. The FA chairman, Geoff Thompson, refers to the "unavoidable withdrawal" of the holders, Manchester United, from the FA Cup without telling the reader which club he supports or indeed why it was unavoidable. There are, in fact, no Manchester United fans cited in the FA personnel who are quoted in the report. Surely they must have one or two. The headquarters is in London, after all. Sorry, tired joke.

It will be interesting also to await confirmation of the pledge that FA Cup replays will be held in the same week as the original tie. Somepolice forces may feel they still need more notice to mobilise officers for a high-profile match.

It seems that a record 7,500 new referees were recruited in 1999, but the annual drop-out rate in the face of abuse and aggravation probably wiped out much of the increase.

This raises a difficulty because if more football is being played then, of course, more referees are required.

"We will be seen as the world's leading sports governing body," avows a member of the FAmanagement team.

There is no reason certainly why the English Football Association should not reclaim the reputation it had in the early days of the game, but why does it strike me as ever so slightly incongruous for thisobjective to be espoused by a Millwall supporter? Sorry again, cheap stereotyping. There's no reason why this shouldn't become the main topic of conversation pre-season at the New Den.

Comments