Sunday 10 October 2010

Discipline and the FA: murky waters

We have all known for a long time that the FA's disciplinary system is inconsistent and haphazard, Sir Alex Ferguson was the latest in a long line of people to point this out this year. Interestingly a large survey of over 500 figures in English club football earlier this year revealed that there was generally very little faith in the FA's disciplinary system:

"It is obvious that this survey shows what we all know – that the FA are blatantly inconsistent when it comes to dealing with disciplinary issues."

There is no doubt that as well as being random and inconsistent, the disciplinary system is far from transparent as well. The review of incidents is done by some people who have never even played football, while the independence of those who make up the disciplinary system is sadly lacking. This document is worth reading for those who want to know how the disciplinary system is structured.

The disciplinary commission is made up of three disciplinary committeemembers plus a member of the specialist panel comprised of former players, managers, referees and administrators; the quality and independence of this commission is clearly a big issue on its own. The 'How does the FA decide whether to charge?' section demonstrates the problem perfectly, it is fine when the match officials report the incident, but for incidents missed or inadequately punished by the officials there is no due process. This is also nothing but a shambles. The FA introduced some new systems to improve things this year but frankly they are nothing but some shoddy paper over the cracks.

The FA has a disciplinary handbook, the problem is that there seems to be no coherent and robust framework for consistently handling incidents that were missed by the match officials and for incidents that were inadequately punished by the match officials. As a result of this we see players and managers randomly charged by the FA as part of a media's knee jerk reaction to various incidents. Serious incidents are often ignored by the FA's system if the media make no fuss about it at the time. This is no way to run a fair disciplinary system.

As I revealed yesterday, the FA have the power to act retrospectively if they wish to stamp something violent and unpleasant out of the game such as dangerous leg breaking tackles. Their own handbook proves this. As some interesting reader comments yesterday made clear, why is such a useless, archaic and inconsistent system not being overhauled and improved? There must be some vested interests at work here. Who would not want the needless violence taken out of our game?

There is a credible explanation for this backwards state of affairs and I think it links up with the resignation of Ian Watmore as the FA's chief executive. There are obviously those who have the power at the FA and included here are the Premier League's chairman Dave Richards, the Bolton Chairman Phil Gartside and the Manchester United Chief Exective David Gill. Dave Richards is a particularly key figure and a rather powerful one too. The Premier League's power may well be linked in with the FA's dysfunctional nature and Watmore's resignation:

"There has been speculation in recent days about the fragile nature of Watmore’s relationship with Triesman, but his principal frustrations were over the corporate structure of the FA, in which the Premier League is a powerful force."

1 comment:

Andrew Schommer said...

I completely agree that the FA is a joke. How they have been allowed to be run this way is absurd. I cant understand why they will never use their retroactive power for bad tackles is beyond me. Get rid of the lot of them! ha