Shocked And Bewildered - UKMA Members React

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Wednesday January 18, 2017 at 3:34pm
The 6 a side football industry is in a state of collective shock after the news that the Rugby Football Union (RFU) has chosen to partner with a League provider that is commonly regarded as one of the most “unscrupulous and unprofessional” in the sector.

The RFU had begun a tender process last year, as they were seeking providers to operate leagues on 60 of their brand new astroturf pitches, laid as the sport enjoyed a boom in the wake of the World Cup in 2015.

This week they have announced which of the providers they have chosen to partner with, and there was widespread surprise at the one they announced.

Out of all the blue-chip companies they could have plumped for – and there are many who are running community football competitions across the UK – the one they have selected has quite the chequered past.

An industry spokesman expressed the thoughts of many when they said: “When the news came out that the RFU had gone with this particular provider, we were inundated with calls from members asking if this was true.” It was, and in this case, truth is truly stranger than fiction.
Insiders are well aware of their malpractices – as are the scores of facilities up and down the country that have been left out of pocket as the firm have not paid bills and disappeared –but clearly the RFU have been hoodwinked by their fine words.

The spokesman continued: “Whatever they told the RFU at the tender process, it’s doubtful they have told them about the Press Complaints Commission upholding a litany of complaints against them for using claiming professional footballers had backed their leagues, or the scores more against them for duping players into thinking they were going to win thousands of pounds in cash prizes if they ended as champions.”

Claims on a press release are one thing, their recruitment polices are quite another. In the early 2000’s the firm hit the headlines for employing a convicted paedophile to work for them, with the spokesman adding: “People deserve a second chance, of course, but whether this is the right person to work for a firm that runs leagues in schools and colleges, we’ll leave open to your own moral judgement.”

The spokesman continued: “We welcome any initiative to grow 6 a side football in the UK, but we are amazed and so are our members, that an organisation as prestigious as the Rugby Football Union has chosen to go with a provider with such a dishonourable history. One that everyone involved in 6 a side football knows is possibly the most unscrupulous and unprofessional there is.

“Clearly the RFU are proud of their brand and it is staggering that they have entered into a partnership that is as potentially harmful as this one. This firm has tarnished our industry for years and we can only hope they don’t do the same to Rugby and leave what should be glorious community facilities merely as bitter monuments to what might have been and leave clubs with bridges to build in the community.”

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