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Harris: No End In Sight

By: Tony Hamilton
Date: 06/10/2002

FORMER Football League supremo Keith Harris today launched an scathing attack on the league clubs saying that most of the 72 clubs chairman are financially inept and the League as a whole is completely ungovernable as a unit.

In his first interview since his resignation in a Sunday newspaper today, former league chairman Harris, who resigned along with the then chief executive David Burns after the league lost their case against ITV, emerges as a firm believer in the old system where divisions two and three were regionalised.

When Harris departed from the job he famously quipped "Handing back the asylum back to the lunatics". But with Barnsley being put into administration this week, Harris has finally felt obliged to come public with what he believes are the problems facing the Football League's Division 2 and 3 clubs.

"The haemorrhaging of cash is extraordinary and you can only blame that on the ambitions of those who run the game," Harris said. "The way some run their businesses is lunacy. At a First Division meeting recently, the chairmen were asked how many were confident of surviving the season. Out of 24, only three raised their hands. That is tantamount to a crisis."

"In the lower divisions the state of the games is bad as well, and it needs an overhaul soon. When I left, I was in no doubt what still needed to be done and they were pretty dramatic changes. There is a limit to the revenues that can be generated by clubs in Divisions Two and Three.

"If you combine them on a regional basis, you get more local matches and therefore more spectator interest for longer in the season."

The Football League is still looking for people to fill the two top positions, and Harris knows whoever takes the jobs on, will be facing mission impossible. To do that job, you need a doctor, a lawyer and a shrink," a clearly embittered Harris said.

"The environment at the moment is one of unbelievable tension between two magnetic poles - the First Division clubs and the rest. Part of the satisfaction in any job is achieving objectives but I don't see how you can do that when there are 72 different opinions and egos to contend with. Do you really want that kind of mental battering?"

He also said that "You think you know what goes on in football from the outside but you don't until you are on the inside. How can anyone set in motion long-term plans with a board of directors that changes like revolving doors? It's nigh-on impossible."

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