The current scandal that has engulfed football is at one level a national tragedy not least as it trashes the good name of England around the world. At another level though it is good news as it proves what most people knew anyway that football suffers from corruption at the highest level and gives us all a chance to move out of denial. The long running scandal at FIFA told us that the sport was in big trouble and the expose of England’s woes can be no great surprise. The root of the problem is, unsurprisingly, money or to be more precise the excess of it in the wrong hands and the unethical pursuit of it by those who can.

Sports were introduced into schools as they were seen as important “for the development of character and character was seen as superior to intellect” according to Dr John Rae, Headmaster of Westminster School. It should be no surprise that research tells us that ‘integrity’ is the single most important attribute of a business leader. A quality that the last Duke of Westminster had according to a recent article by Lord Tebbit about Duke’s quiet and generous actions to his wife injured in the Brighton bombing.

Great Britain’s success at the Olympics and Paralympics is a tribute to the individual athletes and their coaches who have endured early morning after early morning to train hard and have been supported by the funding of the National Lottery. Such effort restores our confidence in the human spirit to be competitive and succeed fairly. The countless fans of football deserve much better leadership of the game than they have. In management speak, we sometimes talk of the ‘bottom up’ * approach to mean involving those at the bottom of an organisation or the members in decision making and leadership. Perhaps the ordinary supporter should have a much bigger say in the running of the game with zero tolerance to those who only want to feather their own nests or more accurately their Swiss bank account.

It is naive to think that corporate greed and corruption can be wiped out easily but ordinary people can fight back by demonstrating that character trumps money and power. In the SME Strategies Network we seek to work with owner managers to enable them to run successful businesses offering great customer service through a high quality product delivered at a fair price. It is the most amazing privilege to work with enthusiastic entrepreneurs who have flair and integrity. I am not a betting man but if I was my money would be placed with such guys and girls and not on the big names who are here today and gone in just 67 days.

*  For a closer look at ‘top down’ vs ‘bottom up’ see: