The Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League yesterday ruled out the possibility of clubs being deducted points for the errant behaviour of their players, on or off the football pitch. The bodies variably argued that either the players' behaviour is not their responsibility or that they do not have the power to use such stringent measures.
The ruling bodies made their pronouncements the day after Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, called on the country's clubs and authorities to take a harsher line to eradicate indiscipline in the game.
As The Independent revealed on Wednesday, Taylor is recruiting a number of high profile former miscreants, Tony Adams, Paul Merson and Paul Gascoigne among them, to tour the country's clubs urging young professionals to behave properly. He has also made it clear that the PFA is willing to waive the maximum two weeks' fine for bad behaviour in certain cases to punish those who tarnish the game's image.
But Taylor, who will meet with the FA and the leagues in the coming weeks to discuss ways to clean up the game, also called on the authorities and clubs to take their own responsibilities seriously. "Where there is no real improvement in the record of clubs, points should be deducted – and serious fines imposed," he said.
"We don't have the powers to deduct points from anyone," an FA spokesman said. "That responsibility lies solely with the respective leagues."
A spokesman for the Football League said that it was beyond the League's remit to punish individual players for off-field misdemeanours. "And I can't imagine any on-field behaviour being bad enough to warrant deducting points short of players walking off the pitch and refusing to play, or failure to play a game."
A spokesman for the Premier League said its own rules govern the behaviour only of its member clubs and not their players. Both leagues said that issues concerning the general image of the game – or specific behaviour that might lead to charges of bringing the game into disrepute – were matters for the FA. The forthcoming meeting will try to establish exactly where the buck stops.
"A great deal of time is spent teaching young players how to conduct themselves as professionals, on and off the field," an FA spokesman said. "The key emphasis of the Academy system is education. This includes diet, warning about the dangers of alcohol and drugs, everything. Our aim is to produce well-rounded individuals, the issue is not just about discipline.
"We work in the most high-profile sporting industry in the country. The fact is that the vast majority of players behave in an exemplary fashion all the time."