The Sports Minister Hugh Robertson yesterday issued a damning indictment of English football governance – and insisted he was right to brand it the worst-run sport in the country. But Robertson added that although change is now vital, legislation to force that change remains a last resort.
The minister was giving evidence to the Commons' Culture, Media and Sport Committee, which is carrying out an inquiry into football governance. He told MPs little had changed at the Football Association despite the recommendations of the Burns review of six years ago.
Robertson said: "When I looked at the corporate governance [of football] it was noticeably worse than in any other sport. There are no independent non-executive directors despite the Burns review. Every single director is a white male and late middle-aged and there is no one who has played the game to any reasonable level, no women or anyone from the ethnic communities. For the 2018 World Cup bid £15m was spent and we succeeded solely in garnering one vote other than our own. The evidence is pretty clear."
The MPs were told by a senior figure from Uefa, the game's European governing body, that "turf wars" between the professional and amateur games had weakened the FA. William Gaillard said the success of the Premier League and Football League had overwhelmed the FA.
He said: "There is no doubt that turf wars have damaged English football and the FA is probably in a weaker spot than any other FA in Europe – the result of the overwhelming power of professional football. This has not resulted in a better situation for English football, and performances of the national team have not been outstanding."