Friday, March 30, 2007

Not For Profit Shambles

FA Chief Executive Brian Barwick when he was Controller of ITV Sport

As we struggle for solutions to the terminal decline of Big Government public services, one thing we frequently hear is that they must not under any circumstances be consigned to the barbarity of the profit driven free market. If we must have change, then not for profit organisations offer the only civilised way forward.

So it's instructive to look at existing not for profit operations for guidance and inspiration.

Operations such as the Football Association, which today did a deal with sssmooothhh operator Michael Grade and some Irish private equity guys to sell a bundle of TV rights for nearly half a billion quid. Nice.

But despite the deluge of TV money they've enjoyed over the last decade, the FA are also the same people who this week dished up yet more hair-ripping premature-aging wrist-slitting torture with the England football team.

Not to mention their regular tabloid dollops of revolving door low grade overpaid managers, revolving door low grade overpaid chief execs, wildly overspending capital projects, endemic bung disease, and serial shagging secretary cover-ups. If we want that, we can surely get all we need from the office of the Deputy PM.

The fact is that the not for profit FA positively glories in the cult of the unaccountable gentleman amateur (eg see this article). When in 2005 they commissioned ex-Treasury Permanent Secretary and QPR fan Lord Terry Burns to report on how they could improve things, he found a shambolic governance structure dominated by huge committees and literally hundreds of buggins turn blazers. Naturally his recommendations for streamlining were kicked high into the stands.

Contrast that with profit making organisations. They focus on the main priorities, make decisions, and get things done.

But of course, they do have a secret weapon to concentrate minds and get heads knocked together.

It's called making money. And we should remember that the next time some best-of-intentions innocent suggests not for profit is clearly the way forward.

PS Obviously the sale of footie rights to ITV was nothing to do with the fact that Barwick used to be controller of sport there. Or that Grade had only just gone there from the BBC. Cold hard cash was presumably the key. But with that amount of incest, it does make you think.

PPS I know we always say this, but what a shame Tesco don't run the England football team.

1 comment:

  1. I love the way you always come up with the interesting stuff!!