In sport there have always been questions as to who wields the power. In recent times it has been the players who are frequently on more money than their bosses who have been said to have the upper hand. However on many occasions it has been a case of the tail wagging the dog.
It would appear that English Premier League clubs are looking for a way to regain control and it is understood that they have been putting “high-level pressure” on the Premier League’s advisory board as well as in parliament to appoint a “strong” Chairman to replace investment banker Anthony Fry who has been forced to step down due to ill health.
The feeling is that the senior figure needs to have a much firmer grip on the tiller and steer the game in a new and more healthy direction avoiding some of the recent unsavoury incidents that have tarnished the brand and the game.
Recently the EPL’s Chief Executive who is paid UKP1.8million a year was forced to apologise for sending crude emails which contained sexual innuendo. His actions were deemed “unacceptable” by both the Sports minuter and the Prime Minister.
Incredibly it is expected to take a year to find a replacement for Fry. So expect plenty of speculation as to who will finally end up with the role.
Front runners at this point in time are two candidates who already have a foot in the world of football. Heather Rabbatts who was once the Chairperson at Millwall and is currently the Football Association’s only female director, who chairs their inclusion board. Ms Rabbatts would certainly be a formidable Chair as not so long ago she accused the Premier League of having “a closed culture of sexism.”
The other mane in the running is Sir Keith Mills who helped Lord Coe mastermind the London 2012 Olympic Games. He is currently a director of Tottenham Hotspur. Since the London games Sir Keith has tired down a number of high ranking administrative roles, but his overseeing the highly successful inaugural Invictus Games is proof again that he may be the ideal candidate to take on the role. As a man who left school with no academic qualifications and who has risen to be a highly successful businessman and millionaire entrepreneur, Mills may well be ideally placed to tackle some of the egos head on, with no accusations of an old school tie, or inherited wealth.
There is no doubt that despite being the most successful league in world football, strong leadership is needed to steer the clubs through the next decade, as spending escalates to levels that many can never hope to compete or match. The game must always come ahead of one or two clubs just as clubs must always come ahead of one or two individuals.
There would be some irony in a Tottenham director trying to bring the league into check as it was former Tottenham Chairman Irving Scholar who changed the face of football in England. Scholar decided to float Spurs on the stock market, in order he claimed to enable investors to put new money into the club. When he found a restriction in the FA’s rules he decided to simply bypass it. He formed a holding company, free from the rules of the FA which applied to all clubs, and made the club, players the ground, all a subsidiary of the holding company, which he then floated on the stock exchange. Once he did this others followed suit and football found itself in an upwardly spiralling spending spree.