Jesse called for the debate in response to the ongoing financial and management problems at his local club, Hereford United FC. He used it to highlight his serious concerns about the operation of the Football Association’s Owners and Directors Test (ODT), which is relied on by clubs and fans to maintain good standards of ownership and governance in the game.
Three directors of Hereford United FC failed the ODT but this had never been made public by the FA, he maintained, and in any case only came to light many weeks after the directors had started to exercise control of the club.
Jesse argued that football clubs are unlike normal private companies, since much of their value comes from the support of their fans. He told the story of the recent decline of Hereford United, but he also celebrated the development of football in Herefordshire and the work of the Herefordshire FA and local clubs.
In response, Helen Grant MP, the Sports Minister said that she would meet with the FA to discuss how the Owners and Directors Test could be improved.
Speaking after the debate Jesse said: “Non-league football is more than just a widely enjoyed sport. It inspires huge passions and commitment, and brings families and communities together.
"It is simply wrong that a club like Hereford United FC can have been at risk of failure for the equivalent of a few weeks of a Premier League player’s wages, and wrong that the FA does not vigorously and transparently enforce the Owners and Directors "Fit and Proper" Test. The Government and the football authorities need to pay closer attention to the problems that our non-league clubs face.”