Football is broken

Football bores me personally, but it’s hard to live in Scotland and not to be aware of the passion and commitment it arouses in Scottish communities. A tiny nation has been trying to accommodate a finance structure which belongs to an international entertainment industry, and has made local clubs the playthings of rich entrepreneurs. It doesn’t work. We’ve just had the announcement that a second major club faces imminent bankruptcy, and it’s the fans and supporters who have been asked to save it.

This posting, then, is flying a kite. Communal activities, which rely on communal support, don’t have to be organised communally, but they can be. Public organisations which promote “participation in sport”, recreation and culture are now able to register as charities in Scotland – provided they are not for profit, they offer substantial benefits to the broader community, and they are properly governed. (There’s no intrinsic bar to a professional sport. The English Charity Commission’s guidance is directed only at amateur sport, but that’s not the distinction here; other charities employ professionals, and some such as theatres put on professional shows.) The full list of criteria for charitable status is laid out at OSCR’s website. A football club could qualify. But it is going to call for a rethink of what football clubs do, and how they do it.

2 comments

  1. Gary

    I’m afraid the “mega-successful” Barcelona are also hundreds of millions of euros in debt (as are many other fan-owned clubs). The problem with such a model is that it still requires representation and most fans want a great team not a balanced set of accounts (see Arsenal as a recent example). Its a great concept, particuarly in bringing clubs closer to their community, however the financial problems do not always go away.

    The proposition put forward by Paul is admirable and could work however I would say that stronger regulation (see France and Germany for how it should be done. England still has its head in the ground) is needed first. Ironically, I actually think that due to the issues with Hearts and Rangers, Scotland is heading in the right direction; its been a real shock to the system. Overall, this may result in a lower standard of football and a dip in crowds (already happening) but in the long-run it should make it more affordable, more competitive and ultimately bring Scottish football closer to its communities.

    In the mean-time, it will be interesting to see if the Scottish Government do become involved (this has happended in Spain on several occasions). Lets watch this space.

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