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Last Updated: Monday, 31 July 2006, 19:26 GMT 20:26 UK
Burning issues
Football League chairman Brian Mawhinney
Lord Mawhinney is unhappy about the state of football
Over the past year, football has seen accusations of greed, cheating and of a bung culture.

The 2006/2007 Football League season gets under way on Saturday.

Football League chairman Lord Mawhinney spoke at Monday's launch of the season, which begins on Saturday, about the issues threatening the game and what they can do about it.


Before the World Cup I raised with the 72 League chairman the issue of behaviour on the field.

I was getting tired of complaints about the behaviour on the field and the cheating that goes on.

We are not just talking about diving - the things I mentioned were also shirt-pulling, the deliberate prevention of taking free-kicks and stealing of space down the touchlines.

I thought the World Cup was riddled with cheating

I have great sympathy with referees because if they were to blow every time there was an infringement you would have seen very little football at the World Cup.

Either managers try to persuade players not to behave this way and the players pay no attention, or managers are not putting players under pressure not to behave this way.

Either way I said to the chairman that they don't hold managers to account enough.

It should be a legitimate concern to club directors to see that their managers do this.

I was given authority to look into what initiatives we can make at a Football League level to improve behaviour on the field.

I have in my diary to meet [referees chief] Keith Hackett to get the referees' perspective on this.

This is not an attack on referees.

This is a concern about the guidelines of behaviour of clubs and managers not doing what they can to improve the spectacle for fans.

I thought the World Cup was riddled with cheating. In virtually every game you could find examples of it.

Throughout the season we will give thought to anything we can do to improve the quality of the behaviour on the pitch.

I have family members who are children and interested in football.

I don't want them growing up thinking these are things you need to do to be a professional football player.


We have spent a year talking about agents. We prepared the ground and spent the time talking to people because this is going to be a significant change.

The three rule changes sound simple but they are going to have a profound effect.

The first change is there is no more dual representation. If a player wants an agent to represent him the same agent can't represent the club and vice versa.

If a player has an agent he is supposed to have a written agreement which is lodged with the FA

Fifa is against dual representation and the FA is against it, but it is commonplace.

But now it is one of our regulations and all of our clubs are bound by it.

The second, which will have a major effect on agents' business, is that in future clubs can't pay for a player's agent.

It's now against our regulations if a player wants an agent to represent him he has to pay for it himself.

The player can arrange for that payment to be paid by the club but it has to be declared as a benefit in kind on behalf of the player concerned.

My guess is that in 12 or 18 months the figures on what agents are paid from football will start to decrease.

The third change regards a player registering his agent.

If a player has an agent he is supposed to have a written agreement which is lodged with the FA, but this does not always happen.

Now we have to see a copy of that agreement. If an agent says he represents Joe Bloggs the club has to see a copy of the agreement.

If we don't see it then we will not register that player and this is the case for every player at every Football League club.

Those three rule changes will have a significant difference over time I think.

The ultimate sanction we have is we won't register a player unless we are satisfied the rules have been obeyed.


A regulatory authority like the FA needs evidence.

Managers saying 'I was offered bungs' doesn't constitute evidence.

Finding evidence is extremely difficult - almost impossible.

You either throw your hands in the air and say we can't do anything about it or we devise a new system

There seems to be a code of civilised silence in football.

I hear the rumours, people say things to me and I'm always very surprised, but it's all anecdotal stuff and that doesn't constitute evidence.

My guess is everyone has had conversations about money changing hands.

I think football needs to set up a confidential reporting system so every time these conversations take place they can be reported to a confidential clearing house.

Over a period of time you would find out who are the people you need to keep a close eye on.

I think this is the only we way we will get some sort of grip on the system.

You either throw your hands in the air and say we can't do anything about it or we devise a new system.

And I think my system might work.

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