The main focus in Westminster was again on Brexit as the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill went through its Committee Stage where various amendments were tabled. None of the amendments were approved, and the Bill has now passed to the House of Lords where it will undergo a similar process as the Government aim to have it passed into legislation to enact Article 50 by the end of March, as previously promised by Theresa May.
At the end of last week there was a debate on a matter proposed by the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee, which is the Committee I sit on. We proposed a vote of no confidence in the Football Association which, whilst it sounds very dramatic, is not binding. However it does indicate the view of the House of Commons. We tabled this proposal following a letter received from various previous Chief Executives, including Greg Dyke, in which they expressed their frustration in the FA’s unwillingness to change. This was despite recommendations from previous Select Committee Reports in which the Governance of the FA was called into question.
The present Chief Executive, Greg Clarke has expressed his determination to bring the FA into the modern age - going so far as to say that if he fails to do this then he would resign his position. Whilst the FA does do a lot of good work - indeed here in the High Peak we have seen significant investment through the Football Foundation - there is a pressing need for them to modernise. Many local football fans contacted me about the debate, asking that I attend and raise their concerns, however being a signatory to the motion I was already fully committed to it.
In a world where there are so many issues that are concerning people, I can appreciate that this many be seen as somewhat irrelevant, but the level of interest and participation in football makes it the most popular sport in the country, and the amount of money in the game today is such that it plays a significant part in the economy as a whole and it should be governed in a modern way with a modern outlook. It needs to represent the fans of the game at all levels, not just the Premiership elite. I made this point to the FA two years ago when Glossop North End reached the FA Vase final at Wembley, only to find that the FA had changed the way they distributed the prize money and gate receipts since their previous final in 2009, slanting it more in favour of the FA than the local clubs who had reached the final.