BST column: Putting the EFL to the good governance test

Six months after protesting outside the EFL offices in Preston, Blackpool supporters plan to do so again today
Six months after protesting outside the EFL offices in Preston, Blackpool supporters plan to do so again today

We at BST often talk about the concept of “good football governance”.

GovernancePro, a web-based governance/CEO evaluation tool, identifies eight main elements of good goverance. See how you think the EFL measures up:

1. The Rule of Law: Not only do governance arrangements have to comply with the law but should be backed by an independent regulatory body.

The Football Ombudsman was created by the EFL and is funded by the EFL. Independent do you think?

2. Transparency: Any organisation should be open and honest about its policies and be prepared to explain the decisions it makes.

BST has been trying for over a year to find out what the EFL’s policies on failure are. Many of our fans who have written to the EFL know that stock, pro-forma answers are all that ever comes back as a reply.

3. Responsiveness: Good governance requires an organisation to respond swiftly and with empathy to problems and concerns. Those of you waiting for an EFL response to the High Court Judgment of November 6 last year could be forgiven for thinking that they still have some way to go in this area.

4. Consensus-oriented: It is a truism in management that people work together better when they do so on the basis of a broad agreement about what needs to be done.

In the case of Blackpool FC, the EFL’s position looks, to the outsider, to be broadly that NOTHING needs to be done or will be ever. Not promising….

5. Equity and inclusiveness: Building on the above, good management means being fair and bringing people into the task at hand.

Valeri Belokon, disqualified by the EFL on the basis of a kangaroo court ruling, may justifiably wonder when the EFL will apply the same ‘standards’ to Owen Oyston, a man exposed by our own legal system, yet still not sanctioned by the EFL

6. Effectiveness and efficiency: There are all sorts of metrics available to measure performance. But they all require an organisation to actually DO something or make a decision. In the EFL’s case, organisational inertia definitely pays!

7. Accountability: Any good organisation is prepared to account for its decisions and performance to a wide range of stakeholders.

The EFL rarely sees past its 72 owners and the question of how it generates revenue for them. It rarely consults supporters about their views in a meaningful way and the set-piece meetings it runs to try to show otherwise are heavily choreographed and chaired by the EFL

8. Participation: This is usually measured in terms of gender and ethnicity but good organisations welcome freedom of expression from partners and conduct their affairs with regard for wider society.

BST has long aspired to work collaboratively with the EFL to address our problems, even going to the trouble of designing a case review model for them to use on us as willing guinea pigs.

It was shared with the EFL in the week before Christmas. We have scarcely had an acknowledgement of it, let alone a meaningful response.

Overall, our view is that the EFL has a lot to do. If this was a school report or a piece of homework, we would probably rate it with the dreaded “Please See Me”.

In our experience, the EFL would react to such a meeting by demanding to control who turned up, would set its own parameters on what issues were discussed and would insist upon vetting the public record of whatever was agreed.

It is very difficult to deal with an organisation which does not observe normal standards and seems too arrogant to respond to challenge. Regrettably, BST is rapidly losing faith that they will ever change. Good reason therefore to support the protest planned for outside EFL headquarters at West Cliff, Preston, at 3pm today.

Charlton fans are staging a similar event outside the EFL offices in London to show that problems with football governance are not just restricted to Blackpool FC.

Until meaningful change is made to happen any club is vulnerable to exploitation from the people who should be its guardians – the owners.

It is understandable that some people feel a demonstration on a street will have little or no effect. The fact is that football fans need to make a stand to fight for our beautiful game.

Visible protest is just a start to show the rest of the world, and our politicians in particular, that this huge problem is getting worse. We hope to see many of you there, whatever club you support. #AllFansUnited