Football needs Government review to protect oldest clubs first from extinction

The news that elite football will continue in these uncertain times is very, very welcome.

Most of us agree our sport is the most important of the unimportant things in our lives.

And I’ve no doubt that, for many fans, having live action televised during the next month — and potentially beyond — will serve as a major lifeline.

I just hope now, though, that as we head into a second national lockdown, those in the game who are pushing to get supporters back into stadiums will stop trying to put the horse before the cart.

They need to realise there are so many more pressing issues to sort out to ensure that, when we are finally free of Covid-19, this football pyramid of ours is still firmly intact.

Boris Johnson should lead an independent review into the football pyramid

For starters, we need to end all the petty spats between the different organisations, because they seem to be hindering any kind of progress whatsoever.

The Premier League is coming over all Lord of the Manor, the EFL is behaving like a spoiled brat, and as a result we aren’t getting anywhere.

It’s all very tit-for-tat between Richard Masters and Rick Parry, and the way they are dealing with each other — and we can throw in the Football Association and Greg Clarke for good measure — is a shambles.

As a result of their behaviour, I’d like a transparent and independently-led review into the governance of the game in this country because that is the only way I can see things getting sorted out.

A review which works out how our football pyramid can exist in good times and bad.

The EFL are acting like spoiled brats under Rick Parry's leadership
The EFL are acting like spoiled brats under Rick Parry’s leadership

The Government needs to take its role in all of this seriously as well, so I urgently call upon the Prime Minister and not the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to bring in legislation that protects our oldest clubs in much the same way that some sections of the arts are protected.

We need to make them untouchable as assets of great community value and safeguard them immediately against foreclosure.

I’d have a sliding scale with clubs of more than 100 years’ standing protected the most, then down through those who are 75-plus and so on.

I know there’d be clubs who’d fall through the gaps, but it would be unfair to offer newcomers the same sort of protection you’d offer Notts County, a club of more than 150 years which pre-dates even the FA.

Old established clubs like Notts County should be afforded the most protection
Old established clubs like Notts County should be afforded the most protection

What cannot be allowed is for any of our clubs to go to the wall because, if we come out the other side of this virus without our world-envied pyramid still standing then we will be a laughing stock given the money football in this country has made over the years.

We’d end up watching kids on loan from Manchester City’s D team populating the lower divisions and how many of us want that?

That’s why it’s time for a full review — no excuses, no threats and no BS from secretary of state for DCMS, Oliver Dowden.

Let’s get it done, and let’s get this sport fit and ready for post-virus life.

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