Date: 11th June 2015 at 5:54pm
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The Football League Conference and AGM ratified a number of changes for the 72 Football League clubs going into the 2015-16 season.

Some will impact more necessarily than others, but for those interested and in no particular order, the Football League and member clubs have ratified our own version of the American NFL ‘Rooney Rule’ and plans are now in place to bring those recommendations into play for the 2016-17 season.

Clubs gave overwhelming support to Chairman Greg Clarke’s plans to increase employment opportunities for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic background coaches (BAME).

Following a six month process of engagement with clubs and campaign organisation it is hoped that the recommendations adopted will see an increase of open and transparent recruitment practices at clubs.

The full BAME process began back in October 2014, and Clarke’s recommendations included the introduction of a new mandatory recruitment practice where in Academy level football within clubs, it would be compulsary for clubs to interview at least one BAME candidate (where an application had been received) for all positions requiring a minimum of a UEFA B coaching licence.

The recommendations hope to achieve between a 10-20% target (yet to be agreed) of BAME representations in Academy football by 2019.

Further it was hoped that a Voluntary Recruitment Code would be adopted by clubs to commit to interviewing one BAME candidate (where an application had been received) for managerial and coaching positions at first team level when applications were invited, but not when specifically approaching somebody to fulfil a vacancy from a fellow member club.

It’s hoped this recommendation would be trialled by a handful of clubs in the 2016-17 season.

The recommendations also talked of creating a ‘ready list’ of skilled and qualified BAME candidates that would be circulated to clubs for use when recruiting as well as helping BAME candidates to network better within the game, to further improve their involvement chances.

Clarke explained at the time.

“I would like to thank our clubs for giving me a mandate to continue this important work. I’m also grateful to Dan Rooney and the NFL, as well as other well informed and intentioned stakeholders for the support they have given us during this review. It is important that The Football League takes the lead in this area as our 72 clubs will provide the majority of employment opportunities and that football’s other stakeholders support our initiative. I am in no doubt, whatsoever, that our clubs make employment decisions for managerial and coaching positions on the basis of merit alone. They do so because they believe the relevant individuals are the right people to take their club forward. However, it is also apparent that this is an industry that places great value on previous experience and personal relationships which can sometimes act as a barrier to those that are less able to get a foot in the door. These proposals are intended to try and address such issues, which seem to disproportionately affect those from a BAME background, while at the same time leaving employment decisions solely in the hands of clubs, as it should always be for them to decide who they wish to employ.”

Further dialogue will now be held in the hope of formalising all proposals for a formal implementation vote at the 2016 AGM ahead of the 2016-17 season.

The Premier League last November, also voted to adopt a new Equality Standard when it came to BAME candidates and overall discrimination with in the game.

In early June there was further news about solidarity payments to Football League clubs following the television deal held by the Premier League.

Prem Chief Exec, Richard Scudamore explained.

“The Premier League and our Clubs are committed to sharing a significant amount of revenue for the development of football outside of the League. The increase in Solidarity Payments to Football League clubs across seasons 2016/17 to 2018/19 is an important part of that, as is our continued support for community facilities, sports participation programmes, and other groups and projects.”

With Solidarity Payments now to increase a mechanism will now be introduced also that sees such payments, tied directly to the value of Premier League broadcasting revenue going forward.

It will however see a change to Parachute Payments to relegated clubs to the Championship. Instead of now, four years of payments, the new system will see such only paid for three years – unless a club has only spent one season in the top flight before suffering relegation – in which case the Parachute Payments will only apply for two years.

From 2016-17 onwards.

Year 1: 55% of the equal share of broadcast revenue paid to Premier League clubs
Year 2: 45% of the equal share of broadcast revenue paid to Premier League clubs
Year 3: 20% of the equal share of broadcast revenue paid to Premier League clubs

Clubs only in the Premier League for one year have a breakdown of.

Year 1: 55% of the equal share of broadcast revenue paid to Premier League clubs
Year 2: 45% of the equal share of broadcast revenue paid to Premier League clubs

In terms of the Solidarity Payments, moving forward they will be in 2016-17.

Championship clubs will each receive 30% of the value of a Year 3 Parachute Payment
League One clubs will each receive 4.5% of the value of a Year 3 Parachute Payment
League Two clubs will each receive 3% of the value of a Year 3 Parachute Payment

The Football League include an example of the new deal, compared to the existing one.

Solidarity Payments to FL clubs, based on agreement with Football League (with no existing formula/mechanism) for 2013/14-2015/16:
FL Championship clubs: £2.3million/season
FL League One clubs: £360,000/season
FL League Two clubs: £240,000/season

Illustration of Solidarity Payments to Football League clubs if new agreement (from 2016/17) were in place now. Based on a % of Year 3 Parachute Payments
FL Championship clubs: £3million/season
FL League One clubs: £450,000/season
FL League Two clubs: £300,000/season

With the new mechanism in place, any increase in the value of broadcasting rights in the future, will automatically lead to an increase in the applicable club Solidarity Payment.

There has also been a change to the way that Insolvency and Administration will be handed in the coming 2015-16 season.

Any club going into Administration from next season onwards will no longer suffer a ten point penalty, that has been increased to an immediate 12 point sanction and now once appointed, an Administrator will be required to market the club for a period of at least 21 days to entice potential bidders.

During this period the Administrator must also meet with the club’s Supporters’ Trust and provide that vehicle with an opportunity to bid for the club.

The Football League have also removed the requirement for the purchaser to achieve a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA), so a club’s share in the Football League will now be passed to the Administrator’s preferred bidder subject to compliance with other League requirements.

It’s hoped these changes will see a reduction in the profession cost of the process, and also reduce the insolvency period for clubs who find themselves in this position in the future.

Additionally, it’s hoped this will grant a greater return to creditors in the future and also prevent the Administration process from being controlled by a club’s previous owner who may only be partly able to achieve a CVA.

The new changes also require a new purchaser of a club in these circumstances to pay creditors a minimum of 35p in the £1 over the next three years (or 25p on transfer of share).

Failure to do this will see the club face a further 15 point deduction ahead of the start of the season proceeding the insolvency event.

Football League Chief Executive Shaun Harvey explained.

“The League has now gone two full seasons without a club suffering an insolvency event which is an encouraging sign. The use of Financial Fair Play regulations in all three divisions, the requirement for new owners to demonstrate the source and sufficiency of their funding and the ongoing monitoring of club’s tax affairs have helped us bring more stability to club finances. However, we cannot be complacent and this is the right time to strengthen our Insolvency Policy and also refine its effects, so that it is as fair as it can possibly be for clubs, creditors and supporters.”

Clubs also agreed to strengthen the concussion and heart screening policies with the Football League, and from 2015-16 the final decision on whether a player can train, play or be ordered to rest, will lie with the Team Doctor or another medically qualified practitioner certified by the FA when it comes to concussion.

Clubs will also now conduct mandatory heart screening on all players aged 16 or over and these tests will have to be reviewed by an experienced sports cardiologist. Results will also be retained by the club for comparison throughout the years.