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Football Governance

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The M Word | Football Club Mergers

Ground sharing between clubs is always unpopular with fans, but mergers of clubs attract even more opposition as they destroy a cherished identity. In most sectors of business a merger is a normal rationalisation procedure when businesses are failing, but in football it happens rarely and generally at the lower levels of the game. Dagenham and Redbridge, now in League 2, can trace back its lineage to three clubs. Moor Green, hit by a series of devastating arson attacks, merged with Solihull Borough to form Solihull Moors. However, it's not a costless process.

Two Tier Premiership Idea Revived

The idea of a two tier Premiership has been revived by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside. He proposes two divisions of 18 teams each, but controversially no promotion or relegation from the Football League, an arrangement that is usual in American sporting competitions. He argues that smaller leagues would solve the problem of the winter break and the England team. Given Bolton's situation, his views may not be entirely disinterested.

Premiership Faces Political Challenge

The Premiership faces perhaps its biggest ever political challenge from what is in effect a combined front of the new culture secretary, Andy Burnham and FA chairman Lord Triesman. Everton supporter Burnham has been tipped as a possible future Labour leader and responding to the concerns expressed by some football fans should do him no political harm.

UEFA Threat To Debt Ridden Clubs

Uefa are threatening to ban debt ridden clubs from their competitions. This is a major threat to leading English clubs to whom Champions League football is a key slice of their income. Some might feel that the move is motivated by continental jealousy at the success of English clubs in the Champions League. Others might feel that Uefa are trying to tackle a genuine problem facing football.

Lord Triesman Blasts Football Debt

Lord Triesman, the chairman of the FA, and Richard Scudamore, the chairman of the Premiership, got in an argument yesterday about the effect of the credit crunch on football at the Football Leaders conference, ironically held at Stamford Bridge. What a lot of this is about is a power struggle between the FA and the Premiership over who has the biggest influence on the game.

Blatter Hits Out At Foreign Ownership

Fifa president Sepp Blatter has called for stricter rules on foreign ownership of clubs in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. On a visit to the European Parliament, the football supremo stated, 'Something has to be done about these billionaire owners. These days you can buy a club as easily as a football jersey. This is not just about England where the problem is acute. This will spread across Europe.' Blatter is, however, less clear about what the solution is to what he perceives as a problem.

Arsenal Board Members Make Stan Kroenke Director

Arsenal's board members have reinforced their position against a possible takeover bid from leading shareholder Allsher Usmanov by making US sports franchise owner Stan Kroenke a fellow director. Arsenal wants Mr Kroenke, who owns a 12.4 per cent stake, to sign up to the lockdown agreement drawn up last year by board members that stops any of them trading shares without each other's consent.

Brazil is Leading Exporter of Foreign Players

The third annual review of the European Football Players' Labour Market published by the Professional Football Players Observatory shows that the percentage of foreign players with clubs in the top flight of each of the five main European leagues (England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) continues to increase. The number of Latin Americans among the foreign players rose by 2 per cent against players from other parts of the world. Non-European players now represent 50 per cent of the total number of foreign players.

Smaller Premiership With No Relegation Urged

Manchester City executive chairman Gary Cook believes that the Premiership remains too parochial in its outlook and the future lies in an elite league of perhaps 14 clubs with no relegation. Cook commented, 'We are getting into a situation where there are maybe ten clubs. Do Saudi Arabians want to buy - and no disrespect to these clubs - Stoke City or Derby County? Or do they want to buy Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Manchester United, Manchester City?' Cook's model is the NFL in American football, but English fans are used to promotion and relegation.

Rotherham United could be barred from the Football League

Miller's League Place in Doubt - Rotherham United could be barred from the Football League and unable to start the new season if they are unable to provide assurances over their future.  The Football League has written to the League Two club requesting an urgent meting to clear up issues that will affect their league membership, with their tenancy at the Don Valley Stadium a key issue.  In a letter to the Millers, the Football League wrote: 'It is imperative that the new company's pplication is presented to the board prior to the start of the season and it is in the best possible