Unless the English game gets its own house in order, Sepp Blatter’s critics in the UK risk being accused of hollow populism, warns Dr David Webber from the Department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick.
Several leading figures including the Prime Minister, David Cameron; Head of the Football Association, Greg Dyke, and the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, have all urged the recently re-elected Fifa boss to stand down for the good of the game.
Although Dr Webber agrees it is necessary for Blatter to step aside so as to allow Fifa to reform and regain its credibility, he also believes the crisis at Fifa is symptomatic of a much wider corporate culture within football of greed and self-interest. Dr Webber argues the English game suffers more than most from this same opulence and avarice.
He said: “The new television deal that Sky and BT Sport brokered with the English Premier League last February, for example, is worth over £5 billion – an astonishing 70 per cent increase on the current 2013-16 agreement. Despite this large stream of money now in the game, it is not enough. Ticket prices for Premier League matches are between 900 and 1,000 per cent of what they were in 1992.
“A little way down the league pyramid, during this same period, the majority of clubs outside the top-flight have either faced some kind of financial difficulty or gone out of business altogether.
“At the grassroots level, funding has not kept pace with the gilded wealth at the top of the English game. Combined with local government cuts introduced by Cameron’s Conservative-led governments, Britain now suffers from a chronic shortage of high quality playing facilities across the country.
“Of course, politically, it clearly makes sense for the likes of David Cameron, Greg Dyke and Prince William to take on Sepp Blatter and the rest of Fifa in the wake of the US-led investigation. Sadly however, in its present state, English football is far from beyond reproach.
“The same kind of political pressure upon the Premier League to redistribute more of its exorbitant wealth, make the game more accessible, and put in place more robust safeguards to protect clubs and their fans is also urgently needed.
“A fairer game starts not with Fifa but at home.”
Notes to Editors:
Dr David Webber is available for interviews. We have in-house broadcasting facilities for TV and radio. We have an ISDN line for radio and a remote camera (Globelynx TV Ready Network) for television interviews.
Contact Lee Page, Communications Manager at The University of Warwick. Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255. Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Communications Manager, University of Warwick
Tel: +44 (0)2476 574 255
Mob: +44 (0)7920 531 221