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Plans to spread the wealth could bring benefit for City

PUBLISHED: 11:04 22 May 2009 | UPDATED: 09:43 06 July 2010

Norwich City could be operating under drastically different guidelines if proposals by the Football League are implemented. Lord Mawhinney, chairman of the Football League, has produced a set of proposals which could see the domestic transfer window scrapped, a joint TV deal with the Premier League, extra funding from top flight clubs and major initiatives affecting the financial mechanism of the game, including a transfer embargo ban for failing to pay taxes on time.

Norwich City could be operating under drastically different guidelines if proposals by the Football League are implemented.

Lord Mawhinney, chairman of the Football League, has produced a set of proposals which could see the domestic transfer window scrapped, a joint TV deal with the Premier League, extra funding from top flight clubs and major initiatives affecting the financial mechanism of the game, including a transfer embargo ban for failing to pay taxes on time.

The proposals will be discussed by the Football League at next month's summer conference, usually attended by club chairmen and chief executives - of which Norwich have neither at present.

The measures are included in a four-page letter from Lord Mawhinney to Culture Secretary Andy Burnham after Government calls for football to “reassess its relationship with money”. The Premier League delivered its response earlier this week, outlining plans for greater financial transparency over the running of football clubs including a strengthened fit and proper person's test.

“We welcome any initiative aimed at combating the inequality in finances throughout the game and anything that can help to spread resources more evenly throughout football is to be welcomed,” said City spokesman Joe Ferrari.

The transfer windows - which run from July 1 to August 31 and the month of January - have long been criticised for inducing a fire sale mentality and panic buying and any changes are likely to be welcomed by league managers.

City boss Bryan Gunn himself felt the impact when the window closed on him - just 10 days after he took the job.

Lord Mawhinney admits that since Fifa “remain implacably opposed” to altering the system, Government help would be needed if changes were made to allow domestic transfers.

“We think the original idea was to regulate international player transfers,” he said. “We are proposing there should be a distinction between domestic and international transfers.”

The League would like Premier League clubs to pass on a percentage of their total spending on players' wages as part of the “solidarity package” the top tier already contributes, excluding parachute payments, aimed at youth development and community schemes.

Then there is the sticky issue of TV rights, with Lord Mawhinney calling for the League to bundle the sale of its rights together with the Premier League's when the next deals are due for renewal in about three years - which would halt the growth of the gap between divisions. Ironically, it's a plan that was offered by the Premier League 14 years ago - and rejected by the Football League, who chose to go it alone, losing millions.

“Whilst combining properties might initially create some concerns, a subsequent 'bundling' of these rights into a number of packages for the market place (similar to the Premier League's current practice) ought to satisfy the competition regulators,” he added.

A new Football League TV deal starts next season, with 10 live Championship games per season on the BBC. The new agreements are worth £88m per season to Football League clubs and encompass terrestrial and pay television, broadband internet, video-on-demand and mobile services.

That deal runs until 2012, while the next Premier League deal starts in 2010 and ends in 2013, but Mawhinney is keen to explore the possibility of there being one deal in the future.

“It is not illogical to say is there a prospect of benefit to both if we turn it into one TV deal?” he said.

Receiving more money from the Premier League may require lengthy negotiations, but a transfer embargo could be ratified much sooner.

“We will propose at our annual meeting next month an initiative which seeks to provide clubs with an incentive to keep up to date with payments to HMRC (Revenue & Customs), PAYE and NI (National Insurance) contributions,” said Lord Mawhinney's letter.

“If approved, clubs who fall behind (with either current debt or time to pay agreements on historic debt) will be embargoed from signing further players.”

Culture Secretary Burnham has called for more consistency in financial regulations, more transparency and scrutiny of club ownership and debt levels. He also wants rule changes for clubs in insolvency; a reconsideration of rules forcing insolvent clubs to pay football debts first and a strengthening of the fit and proper persons test for owners.

t THE MAIN POINTS

t Scrapping of domestic transfer window

t Transfer ban on clubs falling behind on tax payments

t Joint TV deal with Premier League

t Top-flight clubs to pass on percentage of total spending on players' wages

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