Print

What can Local Government learn from football

Written by Gareth Young on . Posted in Our blog

Sky Sports News LogoWe at WeLoveLocalGovernment love a guest post; indeed, in the old wordpress days many of the best posts we featured were those written by other people. We were therefore delighted when two friends of the blog, Samuel Collins and Eshaan Akbar, dropped us a line with a suggested post. Upon reading it we weren't disappointed and we hope you won't be either. If you have a post you'd like us to put up do drop us a line at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. but not until you've read this:

Football is an exciting and very popular sport. Local Government is neither exciting nor popular.

Football is awash with money. Local Government hasn’t got much (and increasingly less).

Children grow up dreaming of being a footballer. I and none of my colleagues dreamed of being a local government officer.

What then can Local Government learn from Football? Here are some playful musings that come to mind;

Transfer fees – Transfer fees should be paid between authorities when a top staff member is poached. This would incentivise authorities to develop their in house talent so they could cash in on being a selling authority and the rich authorities can rip up their pay-scales to develop bloated ‘squads’ of the best people in the sector that eventually get disenfranchised sat warming the bench.

Contracts – Put all staff on fixed term contracts. The best staff get long, lucrative contracts which are renewed years in advance. The less effective staff get that annual meeting with the ‘Gaffer’ to see whether there are going to be on the retained list – finally an appraisal with teeth!

Transfer Window – Staff in the Public Sector should only be allowed to change jobs either in the summer months (once accounts have closed) or during a four week period in January. There would be exciting reports of S151 Officers being seen in airports, Data Records Managers getting out of taxis and friends of friends of Heads of Adult Social Care circulating speculative rumours.

Agents – the ‘in-demand’ local government officers should have access to agents who will negotiate on their behalf – both internal contractual disputes and transfers to other authorities.  Agents will “leak” that their “officer” is unhappy at the number of unactioned recommendations they’ve written in countless reports

Open “Viewing” sessions – fans, residents, public can come and watch officers at their desks doing their bidding and will only be allowed a 10-minute window to sign autographs.

League Tables – We already have a form of League Tables and ranking in place. I would like to develop that model further to include promotions, relegations and prize money. There is nothing like that the prospect of relegation to focus the minds and of course a promotion bonus for all staff, followed by an open top bus parade.

Kit – All staff should be made to wear kits (just shirts but potentially shorts and socks also). For off-site meetings and outside of their authority they should of course switch to the away kit.

Sponsorship – All local authorities should find sponsors, the names of which should be emblazoned on their shirts. All high profile staff should be encouraged to endorse products and appear on billboards. Why not have the Head of Planning endorsing a local building firm or the Head of Schools promote a brand of lunchbox.

Referees – All Local Authorities should appoint a Referee, who serves Red and Yellow cards upon badly behaved managers. A sloppy appraisal should be a yellow card offence, while ordering stationery outside of the existing contract should be a straight Red. One Red Card or two Yellows would see Managers sent out for an early lunch.

Commentators – Any open plan office would be enhanced through the appearance of some local government pundits with pearls such as “Julie’s phone manner is simply sublime”, “Oh my word he’s only gone and put that spend against the wrong cost code” and “It’s all over, Smith just went and attached the document and pressed send”.

Local Government Fantasy League – residents can “buy” officers in a fantasy league, with points awarded for reports sent, meetings attended, phone calls answered, work-related emails sent etc.

You know it makes sense.

Posted: 4 years 1 month ago by RobeyJ #1199
RobeyJ's Avatar
"Fantasy Local Government" sounds like fun! Very chuckle-worthy.

I'm reluctant to try to take a more serious direction with this discussion, but some of the suggestions related to how money is raised from both within the public sector and from the private sector aren't completely ridiculous.

Well, OK, they *are* completely ridiculous, but it wouldn't be impossible to imagine implementing a much-diluted version of them working in the real world.
Posted: 4 years 1 month ago by Glen #1200
Glen's Avatar
Which suggestions in particular did you have in mind?

Log in to leave a comment

Welovelocalgovernment is written and produced by UK local government officers. If you have a piece you’d like to submit or any comments you’d like to make please drop us a line at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or contact us