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Who is dissing the Fan-led Review – and why?

No sooner had details of the review been released, than out they came, snarling and frothing, like Orcs rushing to defend their Dark Lord – the Premier League. You’ve already seen and heard of them, because some of their pronouncements were pretty outrageous; but we thought it would be useful to put them under a little more scrutiny; not least to show that just because they are richer than you, and sit in the posh seats, it does not mean that they know better than you how English football should be run for the benefit of everybody who loves it.

With one exception, these Orcs are salaried employees, and their salaries are eye-watering. One of our team is a retired headhunter who has a particular gripe with the title of football club “CEO” since he believes that a CEO in normal businesses have to shoulder much bigger and tougher business responsibilities than these people, yet football CEO salaries are at the top end of the range for companies of the size most clubs are (based on turnover or headcount). We ask whether these Orcs would be hired for the same salaries in other business than football; we doubt it, and therein may lie their incentive to defend the status quo of the Premier League and its money.

Orc no. 1; Angus Kinnear, CEO, Leeds United

What did Angus say?

He went just a little over the top. The BBC reports his comments thus:

“Enforcing upon football a philosophy akin to Maoist collective agriculturalism – which students of ‘The Great Leap Forward’ will know culminated in the greatest famine in history – will not make the English game fairer, it will kill the competition which is its very lifeblood,” he said.

The Great Leap Forward was a campaign led by Mao Zedong’s Chinese Communist Party from 1958 to 1962 that led to the largest famine in human history and the deaths of millions of people.

Kinnear added: “Redistribution of wealth will simply favour the lowest common denominator. Clubs who excel in recruitment, player development or commercial enterprise will be punished, while less capable ownership will be rewarded for incompetence.”

Why is Angus wrong?

Well what to say, that has not already been said about the towering tastelessness of likening an effort to make English football more secure, to a campaign by a dictator that killed millions of people?

How about pointing out to Angus that what the Review envisages regarding the distribution of TV revenue is nothing more than what has always been the situation in Germany, where the Football Association oversees the fair distribution of TV money through the Bundesliga (now 3 divisions); where bankruptcy or administration are extremely rare events, and where several attendances in the 2. Bundesliga this season have already topped 40,000?

Or how about reminding Angus that we are not talking about redistribution of wealth here, as his own club, Leeds United have, as the Price of Football podcast pointed out, lost £290 million this century and been in administration twice; and indeed his previous employer West Ham United has not been any better at “generating wealth“- but we’ll discuss that with Orc No.2…

Angus’s career profile

It’s difficult to analyse, because Angus seems a bit shy for one so ready to make such extreme public comments. He does not have a LinkedIn profile. We would not suggest that this is suspicious, but our headhunter colleague tells us that the lack of one was generally a reason to place a candidate under greater scrutiny. However this interesting page from the British WeightLifting Organisation sheds some interesting light. It neatly summarises his previous experience before joining Leeds : „Angus is a graduate from the London School of Economics and is the current CEO of Leeds United, whilst previously holding senior leadership roles at West Ham, Arsenal, Coca-Cola and Proctor and Gamble.“

Coke and P&G are indeed companies where only those of the highest professional business competence survive and prosper, so we would have liked to have learnt more about how long he stayed at these two companies and what exactly his claimed “leadership roles “ with them consisted of. He joined Arsenal as Head of Marketing in 2005. He is a bit shy about his age too, but if you believe Football Manager, he is 45. That makes him 29 when he joined Arsenal. Our colleague, having worked closely with P&G and Coca-Cola, says that at that age he would have been at the level of Senior Brand Manager – not really a “leadership role“; and that leaving for a position at Arsenal would have been risky from a career perspective at that point. However, it was a risk that paid off. According to Leeds United’s 2019 accounts, we can reasonably assert that Angus’s salary was £383,949 – in the Championship. We suppose it has passed half a million now – he’s got to get the “market rate“ right? Otherwise someone might “headhunt“ him. Our question is, would his skills and experience be of interest to a company outside football that would pay that much? And ,would that company also be happy for him to moonlight with the British Weightlifting Organisation?

Sorry if this is a bit of a bitchy assessment Angus, old chap. We’ve read some positive comments on Twitter from Leeds fans saying you seem like a good guy, and that your statement was a bit out of character. Then again, you seem to be doubling down on it. Step back and have a re-think, old chap. Otherwise people might unfairly ask if the “wealth” in football you seek to safeguard is primarily your own.

Next up : Orc no.2…Baroness Brady