Sunday, January 21, 2007

Commercialism Of Football Under The Spotlight

Last week Richard Caborn, the Minister for Sport, gave a speech to the European Professional Football Leagues meeting in Brussels. Caborn has for a long time been saying that he felt that the commercialisation of football was harming the game and one of the consequences being that it is losing touch with its grassroots.

Caborn spoke at the Supporters Direct annual conference last October which I attended. He struck me as a very passionate man and commented in particular that sport had "a value above and beyond business" and that "commercialisation has over taken governance". He went on to say that he was concerned that the main stakeholders (the supporters) had been overlooked.

In the Football Governance Research Centre's "The State Of The Game: The Corporate Governance Of Football Clubs 2006" published last December he spelt out his concerns again stating that "the increasing commercialisation of football poses a threat to its long term stability and success, and that action is needed to reconcile the business side of football with its sporting nature".

Last week Caborn continued on the same theme calling for "a better balance between the commercial side of the modern game and its sporting nature". During his speech he asked that UEFA initiate an "open and inclusive debate" on how the game should be run and involve all football's stakeholders in the process.

If you did not know, Richard Caborn was instrumental in setting up the Independent European Sports Review ("IESR") which was published in October 2006. The IESR is an independent review set up to evaluate various issues affecting modern-day European football including; the central role of the football authorities; the ownership, control and management of clubs; the level of expenditure in respect of players; activities of agents; the system of player registration and movement; the distribution of revenues within European football; the provision of funding to generate opportunities for all people to participate in football; and investment in football stadia with a focus on safety and security. For more information please go to there is also a link on the right hand side of this blog.

Only time will tell what UEFA and other footballing authorities do but it is clear to many that although commercialisation of the game has brought much to the game it has also effected other areas in particular the main stakeholders, the supporters.

I received the Football Governance Research Centre's ("the FGRC") latest report recently and am currently giving it some time before publishing an article on its findings here and in particular it's views on the Supporters Trust movement. The latest report (2006) is not available for downloading yet however, you can find out more about the FGRC and their reports here there is also a link on the right hand side of this blog.

Best wishes



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