FA decisions make Robertson irrelevant

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The influence of the Minister for Sport is one often questioned, and the authority of Hugh Robertson appears to have been undermined by the Football Association and Premier League.

Such are the significant powers of the FA and the Premier League, Robertson does not perhaps have the clout one would expect but, as is often said, politics and sport should not mix.

However, in reality, they do - and Robertson recently made recommendations of reform to the structure of the FA and the way in which football clubs in this country are owned and governed.

Of these recommendations (as reported by The Guardian), the government urged football authorities to consider how to encourage and incentivise ways to allow supporters to feature on the boards of clubs, in the hope of preventing dictatorial ownership of billionaires.

A specific branch of this idea to initiate more fan ownership was to suggest the FA and Premier League devise a way to prop up Supporters Direct - an organisation which has promoted fan involvement in the running of clubs for over ten years.

However, this advice was not heeded by either the FA or Premier League, and the former's response to Robertson's intervention was to claim that Supporters Direct should 'primarily rely on funding raised from their membership or their own initiatives'.

It was also requested by Robertson, who was appointed Minister for Sport in May 2010, that the FA reduced the number of board members and ensure the make-up was more representative of the modern game.

The government recommended that the board was streamlined to ten members but it has, in fact, been increased to 14 - although there has been a promise of sorts to reduce numbers in the future.

And, of course, those featuring on the board are still predominantly white, male and edging towards the age category of 'senior citizens'.

This reluctance to show any real willingness to cooperate with the proposals of the government not only demonstrates an extraordinary arrogance from English football's powers, but seemingly makes Robertson's role in the sport almost redundant.

Although the government has threatened to pass laws if it was not satisfied with plans to reform, the fear of such action has clearly failed to temper any decisions by the FA.

This would suggest Robertson is wasting his time involving the government in the administration of football, and raises questions of the relevance of his role or the leverage of his supposed power in football.

With this in mind, GMF decided to poll football fans in order to discover if they even knew who the Minister of Sport was and, despite his seemingly waning influence, almost half of those asked replied in the affirmative.

When asked 'Do you know who the UK Minister for Sport is?', over 7000 people responded - 52 percent of whom claimed they did not know the answer.

Having answered either 'Yes' or 'No', those who responded were also allowed to leave a comment if they wished to specify their answer by naming who they believed the Minister for Sport is.

However, the comment 'Hugh Robertson' was made only twice, with other comments suggesting that either Robin van Persie or Sir Alex Ferguson were in fact members of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Although this may not provide any concrete evidence as to whether or not fans believe the involvement of government in football is a cause for good, it does perhaps offer insight into the profile of Robertson's position in the Coalition.

But, it would appear, his influence is not afforded the value it deserves from football's governing bodies.

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