Ciderspace News Page : Further Pressure On Football League Over Safe Standing
11 June 2013 : Further Pressure On Football League Over Safe Standing
Considering they spent two or three days enjoying themselves in Portugal last week, there's been very little of consequence coming out of the 2013 Football League AGM. Last Friday, there some fairly minor news concerning the tightening up of loan rules that would affect just one club, and a failed attempt to oust the League's Chairman, but otherwise silence - surprising given the Football League are currently lacking sponsorship, and therefore need to keep themselves in the public eye.

One area that did appear to land on the agenda was the Safe Standing debate. A February 2013 meeting of Championship clubs (based on the 2012-13 season line-up) had seen a non-binding vote agree resoundingly that they should take their views to the Football League's board, requesting a trial of various 'safe' terracing options for clubs at second tier level.

In the February meeting, 21 out of the 22 Championship club representatives voted in favour of such a trial. At the full Football League AGM, where all 72 clubs are represented, The Independent national newspaper reports that more than two-thirds of clubs backed such a trial. In the past, the League's board have adopted a position of being opposed to a return to terracing at Championship level, but given the vote of no confidence in Chairman Greg Clarke was defeated by a majority of Championship clubs, he may not wish to add them to the list of disaffected clubs.

The League will need to approach Parliament to put through a change, given the all-seater requirements in the top two tiers are enshrined in the 1989 Football Spectators Act. That will involve canvassing the views of a few football-friendly MPs to take on their case - the Independent quotes one unnamed Chief Executive who says he expects the League board to now "start lobbying in the right places".

Although it's not explicit, it appears that the AGM also voted on the way that the Premier League 'solidarity payments' are distributed down to Football League clubs. This has been the primary source of lower league clubs' problem with Clarke, feeling that he failed to deal with the imbalance of the distribution of such payments and TV revenue down to League One and League Two level. Here the Daily Mail's Patrick Collins writes a scathing article, pointing out that 93.27% of the 5.5 billion gained via current TV deals is kept by top flight clubs, despite the introduction of the new EPPP academy system supposedly promising a fairer method of distribution.

Instead, each Premier League club relegated to the Championship will trouser nearly 60 million in parachute payments over a four year period. In total, former top flight clubs will be entitled to claim 177 million of the total 240 million annual 'solidarity payments' kitty. That leaves just 63 million to be shared out to the remaining Football League clubs. The bulk of that goes to Championship sides, who get around 2 million (plus a further 1.8 million for TV payments). Compare that 3.8 million with the 23 million that Wigan Athletic, Reading and QPR will get and the imbalance is clear (and was covered in detail in a recent Taff's Gloversblog article).

Further down the Food Chain, League One and League Two clubs get far less - Yeovil Town got around 900,000 in total from central funding last season, and so will benefit by around 3 million in extra cash this season. However, here the Daily Mail single the Glovers out, accusing them of "vulgar self-interest". They imply that a vote was held to try to flatten out the way that funding is distributed, to help the bottom two divisions. However they note that "Yeovil Town celebrated their promotion to the Championship by fiercely opposing a move to share extra money with clubs from Leagues One and Two", implicitly suggesting that the Glovers should have shown their own solidarity towards their former rivals.

It appears that vote failed, meaning that the distribution of funding will remain as planned with Collins claiming that "avarice is now completely out of hand, and that the disproportionate distribution of income is seriously damaging the health of the game." On the wider topic he probably has a point, although it would be hard for the Glovers to gain the prize of Championship football, then voluntarily give up a chunk of what that prize is worth.

Link: Taff's Gloversblog : The Size Of The Championship Task.

Link: League AGM Tightens Up On International Loan Rules.

Link: Championship Clubs Put Weight Behind Safe-Standing Trial.

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