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Football authorities treat Rotherham a bit differently to how they would treat Manchester United.

Graham Fisher in Editorial, General Soccer News 8 Aug 2008

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It is time for another whinge today about the way the powers that be in the English game treat the clubs at the lower end of the ladder. Whilst the Premier League are looking for ways to make each of their clubs another quick five or ten million, clubs at the bottom of the league are going out of business and being treated ridiculously badly.

Many of these are clubs are on the verge of disappearing for the sake of a top Premier League players monthly salary. It is time that the top level of the game started to help and protect the grassroots level.

Football in England is not just about the Premier League. There is a whole fantastic world of football that the bosses of the game can’t see because they tend to have their heads inserted in their own …

Good young players are more often first discovered by the lower league clubs. The lower leagues provide an excellent opportunity for young Premier League players to gain valuable experience of first team football whilst going on loan and it should not be forgotten that more people watch their live football in the lower leagues and the non-leagues than do so in the Premier League.

Without the lower leagues, there wouldn’t be a Premier League and the big clubs and the powers that be need to start to remember that fact.

Rotherham United are a great old club with a fine tradition. They have hit really hard times recently which has twice seen them deducted ten points for going in to administration. The first time it happened it led to their relegation to League Two and the second time prevented them from getting promotion back to League One. The very issue of a point deduction for going into administration is a questionable one as it is a perfect example of hitting someone when they are down, but all the clubs know the rules and must abide by them.

Now it has been announced that because Rotherham has been unable to satisfy the normal conditions of Football League rules for exiting administration, they are to be deducted seventeen points at the start of the new season.

They must accept the punishment and agree not to challenge it by a deadline of midday this Friday in order to start the new season on Saturday.

The even more ludicrous thing about this is that the seventeen point deduction would only put them second from bottom of the League Two table because Luton have already had thirty points taken away for misconduct and for failing to satisfy the League’s insolvency rules.

The fact nobody involved in any wrong doing at Luton is still at the club is clearly irrelevant to the Football League. “We’ll punish the club anyway’ they said, “That’ll teach….” Who exactly?

Then, just when you think that the rest of the clubs in League Two hardly need to bother turning up as only two teams get relegated and I think we can have a pretty shrewd guess at who they might be, the Football League come charging in again and give hope to the two clubs with a negative points tally.

They announce that they might impose a similar punishment on Bournemouth who are also under new ownership. They may face a similar punishment when the League consider their case over the next day or so.

The League statement added: “The Board is not yet satisfied with the viability of the new company’s proposals and consequently it has been asked to reflect further on its position.”

So it is possible that League Two will see three teams starting with a negative points tally. Just how ridiculous is that?

Maybe we should consider a similar handicapping system in the Premier League. If Manchester United or Chelsea were deducted seventeen or thirty points it might make the Premier League more interesting.

Of course, it would never happen. The authorities would never impose such penalties on the big boys whatever they did wrong. It is so much easier to throw your weight around and show how tough you are with easy targets like Luton, Rotherham and Bournemouth.

There are rumours that my favourite club, Watford, are in deep financial trouble. They are denied by the club, but we shall wait and see. One thing I do know is that we are not a big enough club to avoid drastic punishment if the worst comes to the worst. It really is no surprise that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

I really hope that common sense will prevail but it doesn’t seem very likely at the moment.

(Since writing this article Bournemouth have also been handed a seventeen point penalty. Madness!)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Graham Fisher


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