Organisation & structure

wsc303MPs want the way football is governed to change, but the game's authorities are happy to protect their own financial interests over the needs of fans, writes Andy Green

Every political party's manifesto at the 2010 general election contained commitments to reform the game. The coalition agreement included a clear promise that: "We will encourage the reform of football governance rules to support the co-operative ownership of football clubs by supporters." Sports Minister Hugh Robertson, with some justification, called football "the worst governed sport in this country, without a shadow of a doubt".

wsc303The fortunes of Sheffield Wednesday and the club's former chairman, Dave Richards, have differed wildly in the past 20 years, writes Tom Hocking

When Bert McGee, who had been the Sheffield Wednesday chairman since the mid-1970s, stepped down in 1990, it was left to a local businessman and fan of the club, Dave Richards, to continue his predecessor's good work. Over the following two decades, Richards's rise in football was as meteoric as Wednesday's fall. The contrast has been so remarkable it prompted the Guardian's David Conn to call Wednesday "the picture of Dorian Gray in Sir Dave Richards's attic".

wsc303Nick Miller reports on Ken Bates's decision to ban critical supporters from Leeds United games

To put things delicately, Ken Bates's tenure as chairman of Leeds United has been interesting. It was difficult to imagine a way he could top appointing his godson's father as manager, banning journalists for having the temerity to ask whether he actually owned the club (before eventually admitting that he did) and calling Leeds fans who disagreed with his methods "morons". However, Bates arguably outdid himself in March, after a group of fans were barred from Leeds games, simply for speaking out.

wsc303The lack of a winter break is more of an excuse than an explanation for the failure of English teams, says Adam Bate

As we approach the climax of another English football season, it is perhaps only to be expected that there should be the usual talk of tiring bodies. Equally unsurprising is the now familiar demand for the introduction of that much-vaunted miracle cure: the winter break. A two-week gap in the fixture list has long been viewed as the answer to English football's problems. Fabio Capello claimed "all the players were really tired" after England's miserable performance at the World Cup in 2010. His thoughts were echoed by one of his predecessors, Sven-Göran Eriksson, who added: "It's more difficult for England than other countries to do well in a big tournament. You need a break."

wsc303With synthetic surfaces being considered again, Oldham fan Dan Turner looks back at their controversial heyday

Sliding tackles were very big in the 1980s everywhere but Boundary Park. Every other week we were treated to the same spectacle. The opposition enforcer would turn up and launch into his "reducer", no doubt hoping to render one of Oldham's more creative players lame. Five seconds and half a yard of skin later, the visiting hard man would return gingerly to the perpendicular with a few doubts about his likely effectiveness over the remaining 80-odd minutes. The plastic pitch had claimed another victim.

Football has changed in many ways since the 1960s but one rule hasn't. For many, including Seb Patrick, away goals continue to confuse and annoy

On message boards, phone-ins and WSC letters pages alike, the refrain is a familiar one. "Why, oh why, do commentators insist on saying during a European tie that ‘away goals count double'? If they counted double then a team that lost 3-2 away from home would be considered to have won 4-3!"

Thanks to share rules, German fans retain a say in the running of their clubs. But Paul Joyce worries this may be about to change

German football is justifiably proud of its strict regulations on club ownership. In order to prevent predatory investors seizing control of teams, the statutes of the German Football League (DFL) decree that at least 50 per cent of a professional club’s shares plus one controlling vote must be owned by its members, ie the supporters. This democratic model also means that fans of teams such as Schalke 04 and 1.FC Cologne have recently been able to use their clubs’ AGMs to block unpopular measures proposed by their boards.

Simon Hart looks back at the 1980s experiment that was the Screensport Super Cup

Football loves its anniversaries but not even the most nostalgic-minded supporters are likely to dwell for too long on the Screensport Super Cup, the ill-conceived substitute for European football that began its short life 25 years ago this autumn.

Only recently formed, the ECA already faces the daunting task of taking on football's leading organisations in an attempt to increase fairness across the board. Steve Menary reports

When is enough really enough? For Europe's biggest clubs, seemingly never. The formation of the European Clubs Association (ECA) was supposed to end the selfish lobbying of the big clubs but, having turned European football into a cash cow, the continent's leading sides are now targeting the money FIFA makes from the World Cup and distributes to member associations.

Mark Poole explores current plans to restructure the Scottish Premier League, but are TV demands too much of a stumbling block?

In an effort to halt the decline in interest, revenue and quality in the game, the Scottish Premier League is working on a blueprint to restructure the competition. They recognise that the current format, with the 12-team top flight that splits into two after everyone's played each other three times, isn't working. The SPL will only confirm that they are looking at various options, including the possibility of an expansion and play-offs, and that no further details can be discussed until later this year.

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