Accrington Stanley chairman Andy Holt believes that the fit and proper person’s test, which governs who can and cannot own a football club in England, is no longer fit for purpose.
This year we have seen numerous clubs reach the brink of extinction due to financial mismanagement, most notably Bolton Wanderers and Bury, and Holt believes that there is no reliable way of telling what owners will and won’t run their clubs responsibly.
Instead, Holt says there should be more stringent punishment for those that do take clubs to the wall, rather than placing sanctions on the clubs themselves.
“I think it’s a disaster,” Holt said on this week’s Totally Football League Show.
“It’s a bit like me breathalysing you tomorrow morning and expecting you to not be on the beer tomorrow night, driving your car back from a party.
“It doesn’t predict any future behaviour, and it doesn’t control any future behaviour. So there’s absolutely no point in it.
“There has to be other things that govern how people operate. At the minute the EFL invites all the problems by doing what they’re doing. They are effectively gatekeepers on new owners by using this test. But the truth is, no test is going to test for what the future holds.”
So what is to be done? You can start by punishing the owners that put the clubs in these perilous positions, rather than imposing points deductions, which prove counter-productive.
“If you deduct points off Bury and Bolton, you’re then moving the club to a new owner with a big disadvantage,” Holt said. “You punish the wrong person. That’s structurally designed into the system. It needs changing and the EFL need to realise it.
“If the EFL is the gatekeeper through ‘fit and proper’, they own the problem. So anything that goes wrong is down to them, because they’ve said ‘this is a guy who’s fit to do it right.’
“So that that has to change. But after that, you’ve just got to control it. You just got to control it so people aren’t getting in above their heads. This is not rocket science. In normal industry you’ve got credit rating agencies, you’ve got credit checking. You can’t get a mortgage if you haven’t got a big enough wage. You’ve got to prove that you’ve got the income.
“The normal disciplines in industry are missing in football. The disciplines that I have to live under in the normal business aren’t there. So for me, you either accept that clubs are going to go bust and let them do as they wish, or you put proper regulation in. The current regulation clearly isn’t working.”
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