| Beckham: Allegedly used by the FA
The Premier League Monday set out a series of demands which could strip the Football Association of their power and change the English game for ever. If successful, the Premiership would effectively take control of professional football, with the Football League as their junior partner.
The Premiership demands were set out Monday afternoon at the FA’s headquarters in Soho. Their plan includes the setting up of a Professional Game Board, which will only have representatives from the Premier League and the Football League. If agreed, this new body would be in sole charge of all professional matters in England.
The Premiership position, set out in a complex letter, also states that the revenue generated by the FA Cup and England internationals should be split equally between the professional game and the FA, after the deduction of expenses. The third key demand is for prior consultation on all major commercial develoments.
The anger of the Premier League is considerable, and the demands will be discussed when the 12-man FA board — six from the professional game and six from the amateur ranks — meet at FA headquarters.
One FA insider simply said: “We will look at these proposals and consider them”, but it is understood that the FA are worried by Monday’s developments. The Premiership clubs could enforce their demands by fielding weakened sides in the FA Cup, so disaffecting key sponsors and TV companies.
Representing the Premier League Monday was the chairman, David Richards, plus chief executive Richard Scudamore, Peter Ridsdale, the chairman of Leeds and Robert Coar, chairman of Blackburn.
Also present was Maurice Watkins, a Manchester United board member and lawyer, who was apparently involved in drafting the demands. Perhaps significantly, David Dein, the Arsenal vicechairman who is considered pro-FA, was absent.
The FA was represented by Geoff Thompson, the chairman, and Adam Crozier, the chief executive, who has become the bete noire of the Premier League clubs.
The Premier League, who have four representatives on the FA Board, are angry at the way they claim the FA have treated the top clubs. One insider said: “The FA have ridden roughshod over our commercial interests and behaved in a disgraceful fashion.”
[According to a Reuters report from London, the Premier League has denied reports that they are planning to sideline the Football Association (FA) in a row over improvements to the administration of the game in England.
[Newspaper reports Tuesday said the Premier League presented the FA with a series of demands for restructuring which would rob the governing body of their authority over the professional game.
[But while the Premier League say they have had talks about improving the running of the game and transparency of decision-making processes, they have no plans for breaking away. “We clearly want to achieve this within the auspices of the FA,” Richard Scudamore chief executive of the Premier League said in statement Tuesday. ]
The anger of the clubs, as Telegraph Sport has revealed in a series of exclusive reports, has been building over many months, but the latest flashpoint came just last week when the FA signed a deal with Team England, representing the players who appear for England.
The deal will give them some £5 million and critics say the FA are using the high-profile players, such as David Beckham and Michael Owen, to get lucrative sponsorship deal which could be worth £200 million for the FA.
Even before this deal was done, Peter Hill-Wood, the chairman of Arsenal, had told me: “The Premier League are unhappy with the way the FA are conducting affairs. The FA are in direct competition with the Premier League in many commercial matters. They don’t pay the players’ wages. They just demand our players. Then to use them for commercial purposes and image rights is irksome.”
The anger is now all the greater because the Premier League allege that the players’ deal was done without the Premier League representatives being kept fully informed.
The deal was, however, discussed when the FA board met in September. Just before the meeting David Richards, chairman of the Premier League, had written to the FA saying it would be “completely inappropriate and very inflammatory” for the FA to agree a deal before all board members had seen the contracts.
The Premier League say their concern is not the money the players are getting but whether, in signing such deals, they would be in conflict with their club obligations. For example, what would happen if Manchester United need David Beckham, but under the England deal he is obliged to go to a function organised by an FA sponsor on the same day' This takes the long-running club-versus-country argument to a new level.
At September’s FA board meeting the Premier League representatives abstained, not having seen the contracts. It was passed on the votes from the Counties, who represent the amateur game and do not have a stake in this deal. Last Monday, just after the England team returned from Slovakia, the FA signed the deal.
WHAT THE TOP CLUBS WANT
The setting-up of a Professional Game Board, made up of the Premier League and the Football League to be in sole charge of all professional matters in England.
Revenue from the FA Cup and England internationals to be split equally between the professional game and the FA.