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The FA needs to do more to help lower league clubs

Wed 2nd Mar 2011 | Football Governance

The FA should be doing more to help lower league clubs manage their finances.

That’s the verdict of the BBC’s 5 Live Investigates. Fans of lower league clubs think that the FA could be doing more to help them manage their finances after research suggested that lower league clubs are more likely to get into financial trouble than the their higher league counter parts.

Research conducted by Dr John Beech, the head of sport research at Coventry University, established that over a 20 year period, 68 non-league clubs had suffered "insolvency events" compared with 66 of their professional counterparts.

The figures come after analysis of 20 years of football-related financial data looking at insolvency events covering a range of financial crises, from liquidation to administration to company voluntary arrangements (CVAs), and essentially refer to the moment when a club can no longer pay its bills.

"I think the big problem in all this is the dreaded 'A' word - it's not administration, it's ambition," Dr Beech told the BBC.

"I think the primary responsibility is to stop this benefactor model where benign benefactors pour money in, because I think that is going against the sporting ethic. It's the deliberate attempt to upset the competitive balance in a league."

Fans of lower league have voiced their concerns on the program saying they felt that some clubs were buying players that were ‘too good’ for their respective league.

"The players that we bought were far too good for our level,” explained a fan of Halesowen Town, which currently plays in the Zamaretto (Southern) League who were farced into administration in 2009.

“We would normally sign our centre forwards from Redditch and Bromsgrove.”

However, David Newton, head of integrity at the Football Association feels the problem is overstated pointing out that Dr Beech's statistics cover 550 non-league clubs compared with just 92 full-time outfits.

"From that context, it's not necessarily demonstrative of a major issue," he told the BBC.

He did however caution;"I think you have to carefully balance regulation and allowing clubs to have the freedom to run themselves and to operate as they wish in a competitive environment."

So as many clubs struggle to stay afloat across the football pyramid, fans feel that there should be more involvement from the FA and that stricter rules are needed to govern the game across from the highest levels to the lowest.

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