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The EFL is failing football and local communities are hurting from the consequences of poor ownership

Untrustworthy owners are becoming a huge problem in football and more research and investigation is needed when approving the purchase of a club.

At the heart of every football club is an owner, who invests money to keep the club alive.

However, amongst the majority of good owners who are looking to improve a club, there is a growing amount of owners simply viewing football clubs as a business venture.

There are countless examples of this, particularly within the lower end of the football pyramid which is concerning given how fragile some of these clubs are financially.

Reading is a club who have struggled a lot this season with owner Dai Yongge failing to pay staff and refusing to pay taxes.

Another example is Sheffield Wednesday where a lot of fans have expressed their discontent over how the club has been handled over the past year.

The owner himself has caused uproar by calling on fans to help the club pay an outstanding tax bill and cover wages.

Furthermore, press conferences in which Yongge has taken part in have worried fans due to the reactive nature towards the justifiable criticism that he has faced.

Gloucester City are a club who have struggled this season in the National League North and have also encountered problems with owners.

Chairman Patrick Chambers and operations director Nicky Chambers stepped down from their positions earlier this season after Gloucester were defeated by Brackley Town.

The pair were only at the club for half a season, after having previously worked at Hungerford Town.

Another case of failed owners who only stalled the process of cleaning up and stabilising the club’s financial situation.

There simply isn’t enough research that goes into the approval of a football club owner and although there is an EFL fit and proper test to try to ensure that owners without the capability of running a club aren’t in the running for a takeover, there has been endless examples of where this has failed.

The liquidation of Bury is the wake up call for the English football pyramid to re-evaluate their investigations and owner tests.

Plenty of clubs have come close to ending up how Bury did and it’s extremely worrying, not only for English football, but for the communities of the lower league clubs.

The solution to reducing the amount of unstable owners is to improve the initial fit and proper test with stricter guidelines of what qualifies to be ‘fit and proper’.

As well as this, there needs to be more frequent investigation into clubs throughout the season to help spot the problems before it heads towards a point in which a club is deemed not savable.

There also needs to be more communication between both the club and the football league, so that the two parties are aware of ongoing problems.

There is a lot of work to be done to improve the stability of clubs across the football league and there is enough evidence that the current process is not working.

Ultimately, the owner of a club must be held accountable for any wrongdoing, but the EFL has a responsibility to ensure that an owner is the suitable candidate to purchase a football club.

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