The UK Government should be proactive in seeking reform of football if the national team is to have any real prospect of future success, argues Whitehouse Consultancy Chairman, Chris Whitehouse.
The United Kingdom’s Minister for Sport, Helen Grant, has come in for strong criticism on a leading UK political blog site for her “silence” on the crisis in English football.
Writing on Conservative Home, owned by former Tory donor, Lord Ashcroft, and edited by former Conservative MP, Paul Goodman, one of the site’s regular correspondents, Chris Whitehouse, criticises Conservative Minister, Helen Grant, for not speaking out more loudly on the need to ensure that there is a sufficiently large pool of talent from which to select the English team. He accuses the Minister of “tokenism” for focusing instead on the issue of women’s representation in the board rooms of the sport.
Whitehouse, who is a Conservative councillor (Newport West, Isle of Wight) and Chairman of leading lobbying agency, The Whitehouse Consultancy, writes ahead of the 30th July anniversary of England’s historic World Cup win against Germany in 1966 and says: “I want to see our Minister for Sports asking how soccer is going to reform its structures and systems to make success a possibility in future rather than just an increasingly distant memory from the past. Helen Grant must cease threatening to remove public grassroots funding for soccer if it doesn’t meet her tokenism targets and instead use her influence to secure grassroots investment and changes in the game’s approach.”
Reviewing the recent proposals from English Football’s Chairman, Greg Dyke, for reform in the sport, Cllr Whitehouse goes on to say: “A Minister who spoke up for the lower league fans and positively championed their issues whilst ensuring that the big problems are addressed, rather than just turning out for the occasional photo-shoot, could be popular. Many of these clubs are in smaller towns and on the fringes of larger cities in the Midlands and the North – just where we [the Conservative Party] need to win marginal seats if we are to have a chance of a Parliamentary victory next May. It’s time to speak up for the consumer, not the powerful clubs.”
“Greg Dyke sought to kick off an important debate” observes Whitehouse “Ministers should now run with the ball. If they do, then maybe the dismal memories of Brazil 2014 can be the precursor to a match in which our national game is the winner and our Party is seen to be interested in an area of national life which matters greatly to a huge, growing and passionate section of the population. In Government, we have possession of the ball, and such is a prerequisite to scoring. Are we to do nothing with it until after the final whistle of the General Election is blown?”
The full text of the article can be found here.chriswhitehouse