Football clubs under increased ethics pressure

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Speaking at a conference on football ethics yesterday at the University of Birmingham, Alan Flitcroft, partner and head of Ernst & Young’s European sports group, said that clubs were forced to operate to different standards from most UK companies.

‘In business, an owner manager who holds 100% of the business can effectively do what they like, within the boundaries of the law. They can pay themselves a salary, sell the assets of the company and then take the money out of the business, or even cease trading and liquidate the company,’ said Flitcroft.

‘But these options are not realistically available to owners of football clubs. They have wider responsibilities. The special place that football and football clubs hold in society means that owners have other stakeholders to consider’, he added.

Flitcroft cited the case of Manchester United disclosing commissions paid to agents – ‘to be utterly transparent in this sensitive area, when there is no legal or reporting requirement to do so’ – as an example of these pressures.

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