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Football's appetite for self-destruction

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David Bond | 06:49 UK time, Tuesday, 23 March 2010

English football is searching for a new leader after Football Association chief executive Ian Watmore became the latest victim of the game's curious appetite for self-destruction.

A series of disagreements with senior figures on the FA board - most notably the Premier League chairman Sir David Richards - convinced him that for all the talk of wanting to change, the FA remains a dysfunctional body, crippled by competing agendas and historic vendettas.

His departure after just nine months in the job is all the more damaging as the former civil servant was making good progress with arguably the most influential figure in the sport, the Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, after his breakdown in relations with the FA chairman Lord David Triesman.

But it was his relationship with Richards, who in addition to his role as chairman of the Premier League holds the post of vice-chairman of the FA and chairman of the FA's international committee, which led ultimately to Watmore's frustration.

The exact nature of his disagreements with Richards are still unclear - although one source suggested it could be related to costs and staffing levels at the FA's Wembley headquarters.

For his part Richards is known to be bemused at his role in Watmore's sudden exit. He acknowledges there were differences of opinion but he views these as the rough and tumble of football politics.

Whatever the truth of it, Watmore clearly came to view Richards as the obstacle in his path to reform. And for a man used to making quick decisions in the City or Whitehall this was too great a frustration. He resigned his post on Friday.

Ian Watmore Ian Watmore replaced Brian Barwick as the FA's chief executive. Photo: AP

Lord Triesman, who said on Monday he deeply regretted Watmore's decision, had hoped he would persuade him to stay over the weekend.

But on Saturday morning an e-mail was leaked to a national newspaper of a briefing given to the board and other senior FA figures on the appointment of new marketing and communications director Julian Eccles. The briefing gave guidance on how to answer media queries on the former Department of Culture special adviser, who, like Triesman and Watmore, might be viewed as another political appointment.

Watmore is understood to have been furious at the leak - seeing it as an attempt to humiliate him and create tension with Triesman. He fired off an angry e-mail to every member of the FA board dismissing talk of a split and promising to punish the person who leaked it.

The BBC has now obtained details of the e-mail, which Watmore sent at 1710 GMT on Saturday.

Watmore writes: "I don't know which sad person thought to brief yesterday but we know it had to be from this list as you are the only people who received it.

"I have three things to say: There's not a cigarette paper between me and the chairman on any issue and he is a man of ethics, character and courage, rare in my experience of any walk of life let alone football.

"If I ever find the person who leaked the briefing then I will ensure that that person's reputation is damaged beyond repair. This is the last time I share any information in advance."

The tone of the e-mail - highly confrontational and extremely unusual for any chief executive in addressing his board - drew a swift and angry response from Bolton chairman and FA board member Phil Gartside who called for a meeting to discuss Watmore's position. In the end it was academic. Watmore had already decided to go.

Such petty squabbling and chaos at the FA does the game no good. With only 79 days to go to the World Cup this is a distraction English football could do without - although the FA insisted his departure would have no impact on manager Fabio Capello's plans for South Africa.

The repercussions for England's 2018 World Cup bid could be more serious. Watmore may have had no direct role on the campaign, but England's rivals and the rest of the football world will be enjoying this latest round of friendly fire.

Perhaps most importantly Watmore's departure provides politicians gearing up for the general election with the perfect excuse to call for a vote-winning crackdown on the people who run the people's game.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is known to be alarmed at the levels of debt in the Premier League and the lack of financial regulation. He has spoken of his desire to see the sport return to its community roots.

But until the FA finds a leader who can heal the organisation's own bitter divisions, how can the FA be expected to deliver a vision for the future of the sport?

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    The FA needs a complete rebuild. If you have a barrel of apples and one of them is rotten but you can't tell which one, then you can only get rid of the lot of them - and the barrel - and start again.

  • Comment number 3.

    This is a non-story IMO. I didn't even know who this guy was until I read about his resignation. Does he really have that much of an impact on the game in this country?

    The Premier League holds all that cards (i.e. money), everybody knows that. So long as we perform in SA I couldn't care less really!

  • Comment number 4.

    This just proves what most of us have thought for years, the FA are completely useless and powerless. Add in the vested interests, infighting and petty feuds and its laughable.
    Two things sum up whats wrong, firstly the still not finished national centre at Burton thats not going to be as good as it was supposed to be mainly because the Premier League has squeezed the FA's finances until the pips squeek. Secondly Trevor Brooking's attempts at getting a structured youth training system that is thwarted by the Premier League and Football League at every opportunity because of stupid power struggles.
    Football has 3 major players all fighting each other and that cannot be good for the game it needs just 1 and until that happens this farce will carry on.

  • Comment number 5.

    #2 Saying we should throw the baby out with the bath water, literally.

    If I had a barrel of apples with one rotten, I would keep them all and eat them safe in knowledge that the odds were on my side.

    Also, one can usually spot a rotten apple by the poor condition of its skin. I think this thought leads to a better idea on identifying the problems at the core of the FA - the old fuddy-duddies who don't understand the 100 mile an hour pace of the modern game.

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    What are the odds on his being told that all the England squad will go down with injuries between now and May unless the FA completely submit to American/EPL rule?

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    The media call the shots.
    They decide which manager will get the sack.
    They decide which government will run the country.
    The masses just follow.

    The FA is, as a previous poster said, extremely slow to change. It is too powerless, too inefficient, and totally secondary to the Premier League in terms of national footballing bodies. This will not change any time soon.

  • Comment number 10.

    I didn't think the language he used at all inappropriate. Privileged information being leaked from the boardroom is despicable in any walk of life and deserves the sternest punishment. If it is treated as gross misconduct those responsible ought to be dismissed with no notice without any pay off.

  • Comment number 11.

    Ah well, one less job's-worth on the plane to South Africa; at least the saving covers Beckham's much more usefully invested air fare as ambassador for the 2018 bid.

  • Comment number 12.

    We are again in a position, when England are entering into a world cup campaign with friction in the camp (FA), it is about time we sorted this organisation out, we have had problems in the past (Terry Venables) when idiots on the FA, did not like Terry. One of the problems I believe, is that we have to much of the old school tie brigade syndrome, this is common in most sports in this country, this is why we will never achieve the success that potentially we have. OK people keep harping on about the 1966 World Cup, one of the reasons we won was that it was held in this country, we had declined for about 20 years after. We resurfaced in the 1990's because of the players and managers at that time (Terry Venables). Not because of the FA, they only drag managers back, we have to politically correct.
    The FA should be run professionally, an elected board by members of the football leagues and not controlled by just the premiership, who in my mind are destroying football with greed. We need to concentrate more on England football team, rather than over hyped premiership teams. Who gives a damn about Manchester United or Chelsea I am not interested in paying money to over rated players. In my opinion football should take a leaf out of Ruby Unions book, they are professional, hard working, OK we still have the old school tie brigade, but in time we will get rid of them. Ruby Union is a mans sport where they don'nt roll around like dying swans after being tackled.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    Oh Sweet FA

  • Comment number 15.

    The FA has been a sideshow ever since it effectively handed its power to the Premier League clubs.

  • Comment number 16.

    They have to weed out the clowns who have caused the Wembley pitch fiasco. There are deep hidden devils within the organisation. Cat and mouse staff relations invariably occur when there are incompetents in an organisation - such apointments (usually political) have to be terminated first.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    I really dont see how this is a distraction for the players in the build up to the World Cup. Can we please stop making Harry Redknapp excuses all the time even before the tournament has begun.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think the FA are the biggest obstacle to England ever winning anything. 7 years to finish the Wembley project, 10 years and counting on the National Football Centre. What ever happened to the root and branch examination we were promised after England failed to qualify for EURO 2008? All quiet on that front. We're performing respectably under an exorbitantly paid Italian manager so we can just sweep all that under the carpet.

    I live in Germany and, having followed German football for the last couple of years, I can say that there is much more of a sense that the German football community is a pyramid. The DFB (German FA) and the national team sit atop the pyramid and everything (including the Bundesliga clubs) is geared towards giving the national team the best possible chance of success.

    In England it is simply not the case.

    http://www.worldfootballcolumns.com/

  • Comment number 20.

    Nothing new here, Football administration is and always has been full of self serving poseur's whose sole interest is to milk the gravy train for their own ends and gratification (With perhaps the exception of Trevor Brooking)

    Given that Watmore has decided enough is enough speaks volumes about the dysfunctional attitude of those involved, inept committee's filled with incompetant individuals whose last consideration is the good of the game and who have absolutely no ambition to take the FA forward into the 21st century.

    The problem starts with the County Associations and continues on through to the Governing body. In over fifty years of involvement I can recall only one person whom I would describe as a 'Good Man' and whose only interest was the good of the game as a whole.

    It goes without saying that Richards has far to much power within the game and should seriously consider his position in the organisation, that said, his ego is probably sky high right now as a result of yet another Camel being created by another of his undemocratic committee's.

  • Comment number 21.

    The issue is clear - Football does not WANT to reform itself.

    Clubs going under and reputations lost etc. etc. are just collateral damage as far as the powers that be - especially the Premier League - are concerned.

  • Comment number 22.

    The FA Board seems to exist in its current form for the sole reason that it has always been like that. I'm all for people standing up for what they believe in and freely airing their opinions; but when it gets to the stage where the tradition, standing and titles get in the way of making the best decisions there are huge problems.

    The Premier League is certainly more powerful within this country, but the FA are one of the parties that make up IFAB (along with the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish FA's and FIFA). No rule change can be made to football without IFAB agreeing to it; so in that sense the FA are an extremely important body, not just to this country but to world football. Sepp Blatter has stated very clearly that he values IFAB and that for as long as he is the head of FIFA, IFAB will continue in it's current guise; however I can't see his successor (most likely Michele Platini?) wanting to keep the Brits happy and let them have the influence they have.

    The FA is a big, ugly, dying beast. Their relevance is constantly being questioned by the public, in the future they won't have the influence on international football that they have now and they are unable to operate in any kind of professional manner.

    Any group who believed the best person for the England job was McClaren should never be allowed near a decision again in their lives.

    The FA have proven themselves useless on many occasions, the changing of the FIFA president will finally bring about their end.

  • Comment number 23.

    Watmore was a good bloke and wanted to improve the English game for the better by improving financial regulation, media handling and the general infrastructure of the FA and the leagues. People like Gartside really annoy me, they should have no say in the running of the league when they are just the chairman of a club. They should stick to running their own club and there should be an independent body to make decisions, occasionally canvassing opinion from owners and managers, possibly giving them a vote on decisions that directly affect them, eg the "39th game."
    The current system of leadership in the FA is archaic and will only further the state of malaise that has been induced in the minds of many fans when the subject of Soho Square et al is brought up. These draconic committees need to be replaced so that decisions can be made instead of getting tied down in deliberation and petty squabbling every five minutes.

  • Comment number 24.

    I worked in professional football in the 70s and I have to say the problem comes from the non-football people who are running the game. Lord whateverhisnameis - what is his background in the game? At least Geoff Thompson had served his time in the game - professional and at County level. Even the "great" David Davies did not work in the game - he was a regional journalist of little consequence although I am sure he thought himself better than that - he was on the outskirts of the game.
    Good administrators work through the game from a young age. There are people still in the game from when I was in it and these are the people who have the respect of the football people within the game. Not career civil servants, PR people, TV people, or journalists who actually believe their opinions matter in the game.

  • Comment number 25.

    The FA stands both for Football Association and another abbreviation which probably wouldn't get past the expletive filter.

    It has never lived up to the former. The closest you could truthfully describe it as is the "Worst Of Football" Association. They may as well just change the name to the latter.

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    Johnap

    Just because you have skill on a pitch or good club management does not in any way shape or form qualify you for running an assosciation.

    The problem is not necessarily the lack of footballing knowledge, but rather the people who are in power are there not for the good of the people, the sport or youth development but for their own career advancement. They are mostly driven by money, and not necessarily personal wealth but they measure success by how much money they have amassed for a particular organisation. And then comes the power, these people crave power, they want as much auhority as possible, and when you have 3 entities trying to run the same industry t(and they are supposed to get on) there will always be problems.

    But as with all the people who get power they dont want to give it up so none of them will merge or relenquish their particular asoc. control. Juts like governments we see them try and cling on to power right through to the bitter end despite huge dislike throughout the population

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    The FA is far too much an example of amateurs thinking they know better than professionals how to do things.

    It's always a disaster.

    Just what we need in the run-up to the World Cup,...

  • Comment number 30.

    As an outsider, please let me know what else the FA does, apart from running the FA cup and appointing Fabio. This is because there does not seem to be any more Lampards, Owens, Beckams etc in the pipeline. And even then the above palyers were developed by the clubs and not the FA. For all we care at least the Premier League runs an entertaining show that keeps us at rapt attention for 8 months every year, and even this (Nairobi) far from London, the withdrawal symptoms are always in evidence once the eight months are over, and the long wait for season's start begins!

  • Comment number 31.

    The whole pyramid is about to collapse - led by Crystal Palace, Portsmouth etc.

    FIFA, UEFA, PL, FA, FL are all in a position to cap wages and transfer fees but they all sit there fiddling while watching Rome burn.

    The £1m fine imposed on bankrupt Portsmouth yesterday is going to the PL at the expense of local creditors. What for? More havana cigars and cognac for the smoke filled idiot rooms?

  • Comment number 32.

    The premier league has all the power,all the money.
    The organisation wants to replace the F.A as the only footballing authority which will coincide with the disappearance of at least 50% of non premier league clubs in the next 20-25 years.
    I don't like politics involved in sport, but anyone who thinks this never (or has never happened) is either naive or simply closing their eyes to the fact in the hope that it isn't happening. But in these circumstances we need the government to step in to save the rest of the footballing communities in this country.
    The premiership was something that should never have existed. We should only have one footballing authority, a re-vamped & modern FA. And lets get rid of the premier league all together & bring back the 4 table divisions.

  • Comment number 33.

    It underlines a problem which is endemic. The product is stale, dull and predictable, with the EPL being essentially a money-race. The FA is in need of an overhaul, for a start, and then needs to overhaul our game. Quite why no-one in the governing body of football in this country has embraced parity and thought about having a competative league - we're all too quick to take the American dollar, but without looking at the structure of it's sport. Imagine if you will, a 20-team race for the title in the EPL instead of a top-four? Imagine the proliferation of revenues to help keep the lower-league clubs afloat? Every football fan in this country is being treated like the mug punter he is by accepting the way football is run in this country, and it needs to change before the penny drops and people stay away in their droves...

  • Comment number 34.

    On the radio this morning they were calling for football clubs to help with the English national team - Half of them are not even owned by english people any more so why the hell would they feel obligated to help !!!

    Make the premiership 18 teams, ditch the league cup, and you have freed up time for the england squad to get together more often, as well as players not having so many games to play.

    The Chief Executive job should go to an intellegent fan, not a financial expert !!! Looks at the mess of the banks !!!

    I would like to see an ex-pro in the job next, someone who can soley concentrate on providing better training for a youngesters - some futsal might not be a bad idea !!! My tip for the job would be Paul Elliot. He has got the brains, knows what it envolved in youth development, and most importantly of all - will not take any rubbish from the rest of the FA. Alternatively - I would do it !!!

  • Comment number 35.

    By all accounts, Watmore was a potentially excellent chief exec who was hounded out by the bickering and in-fighting that continues to go on at the FA.

    I really do despair. I'd love nothing more than to see the World Cup be held in England, and the empty suits at the FA seem to be doing all they can to stop this happening.

  • Comment number 36.

    The FA THINK they control football from 7year olds to the Premier League AND have a strong international following.
    Furthermore their Board Members are usually Chairman, self made men who are not used to bowing to the views of others, when their views are not accepted.
    Sport in this country, Football, Cricket, Tennis, Rugby Union and League.Have all been led in an Amateur way up to now.The same rules and regulations for all levels from the youngest boy or girl to the highest paid professionals.
    Slow to react to the global phenonamen of TV viewing. Unsure how to use modern technology (but still ban players with TV footage)
    Rugby League, and now cricket following Kerry Packer and the Indian Leagues are at last waking up to the changes virtually forced upon the authorities.
    It is only a matter of time, before the FA in its present form implodes due to the conservative nature of its Board Members and Chairman and probably not the fault of THE CEO or the staff members.

  • Comment number 37.

    Most people on the FA board seem to be ex-directors/ceos etc of other failed companies. I doubt that they have any understanding of football from a fan's point of view which is the whole issue with the FA. They seem to be more interested in marketing and generating cash than actually addressing the real issues in football, and there are many!

    I think that the whole FA needs restructuring and a bog clear out. Get some people in there who've been involved in the game, ie some ex players or managers. People who understand football from grass roots up. And some people with a bit of guile, not cowards who hide behind PAs. We haven't heard of some of the people at the FA as they don't have the guts to come out and speak themselves, relying on press officers and PAs. We wanna hear from the Organ Grinders, not their monkeys!

  • Comment number 38.

    The FA needs to be run like a business. This guy was a former civil servant. What on earth do government employees know about running a business?

    To quote from the alleged e-mail: "If I ever find the person who leaked the briefing then I will ensure that that person's reputation is damaged beyond repair". Can you ever imagine a senior business executive putting that in print, especially to the members of the board he reports to? Farcical!The man's ego is clearly out of control.

  • Comment number 39.

    Phil Gartside? Wasn't he the guy claiming to the Bolton fans he wouldn't sell Okocha, not for anything, after he'd surreptitiously agreed the sale? He's on the FA board????

    Why am I not surprised by any of this.

    http://www.amiplaying.com

  • Comment number 40.

    Comment #19 is on the mark, the ultimate goal of football in this country should be the National team. The fact that the petty interests of clubs, which have less and less relevance to their communities and more and more to investors and financial sharks does not bode well for the sport. Football is our National PastTime not a financial vehicle for scam artists. Dump the Premier League from the FA and appoint respected footballing insiders

  • Comment number 41.

    I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say today is the beginning of the end of football in this country as we know it! The one man that was fighting for equality (and most of all common sense) has been forced out by the greedy puppet masters and their ‘yes’ men more concerned about lining their own pockets than the good of the game.

    Watmore was looking to stand up to these guys and more importantly implement the common sense changes that would drive the game forward. Instead he has been forced out by the ‘old boys’ club looking out for each other.

    So thank you Mr. Richards, Gartside, et al. I’m sure as long as your league and your club continue to line your pockets, you’ll continue to care less about the rest of us mere mortals down here in the football league and below.

  • Comment number 42.

    To quote Tom Watt, it's coming to something when we'd rather stage a World Cup, than win one.

  • Comment number 43.

    Why is it that when something like this appears on the beebs site I read peoples comments poiting to the obvious need-to-do's and yet no-one but no-one actually seems to walk the walk.

    Interesting how I see the passion of the people on this article and yet no-one seems interested in doing something about it.

    What can/will you do?

  • Comment number 44.

    Not another slow moderation blog! Anyway, interesting that Phil Gartside should be the only person quoted as wanting to discuss the FA Chief Executive's position. It's almost as though he had some reason to be rattled.

    There are too many politicians in the power roles between FA and Premier League already, and that's the reason it is so impossibly slow to make anything worthwhile happen.

    The FA is a mess and has been for years. The best people will come in, try and then leave, with the old guard of problem people remaining.

    They need a large clear out, and a new guard appointed else nothing good will ever come.

    Just like the civil service

  • Comment number 45.

    Sir Stanley Rous said " Football is a great game, but lets hope it doesn't become anything more than a game".
    With the FA in charge we have zero chance of salvaging the current situation.
    If you want to arrange a long lunch with fine wine and good cigars call the FA

  • Comment number 46.

    Yet again the whiff of old fart prevents the fresh aroma of change pervading the corridors of power of our national game . Whilst the FA as opposed to sweet FA, have a number of conflicting interests to reconcile it shold not be beyond the wit of FA man to see time is passing them bye . It would take the wisdom of Soloman himself to arrest the decline from relevant to irrelivant , important to impotant. For gods sake wake up and smell the bacon (Unsalted)

  • Comment number 47.

    The person who leaked the email cshould be sacked without notice and without this merry sack bonus!

    That is a complete and intended breach of confidentiality and that is instant dismissal everywhere.

    I hope the over paid, useless and stuck in the old world fool has his reputation ruined forever. Simply put, he cannot be trusted by anybody so all the board should do what they can to flush him out!

    Now if anyone wants to disagree with me, remember this little question, what would happen if YOU did the same thing?

    It is really annoying how the big earners always get away with everything!

  • Comment number 48.

    *Yawns* Great - just when we thought we'd run out of potential excuses for our (hopefully not) inevitable failure at this year's World Cup, they find this one. Can we not just give this stuff a rest?

    Yes, we know that the FA is useless - it's scared of losing respect that it's already relinquished to the powers that be in the Premier League (and even players, based on the leniency of referees towards big names) and is now practically a nothing organisation.

    The simple fact of the matter is this - if the FA wants respect, it needs to earn respect by putting its foot down and asserting its authority back on the Premier League. Personally, if I were to suggest a way, I would do something similar to the solvency ruling that's going to be introduced by UEFA in the next few years. Any club that doesn't comply is either docked points or expelled from the League system. It's at points like that when people will stand up and take notice and will respect the FA again. If it doesn't, it's just going to be even more of a farce than it already is.

  • Comment number 49.

    Scrap The FA and get the Premier League to take on it's responsibilities. It seems far more successful in marketing itself and making money

  • Comment number 50.

    sssspurssss.
    I do not disagree with you but the game should be run by people who know the game. The first manager I worked with said that football was about the people and that we were only custodians of their favourite club. While we were there we were not to let people down. Of course, some clubs get relegated, others flourish and others have periods of success and then a lot of nothing. Most clubs have a lot of nothing but that does not stop the true supporter from following them.
    The top people at the FA don't realise that. They think it is all about the top clubs but I think - although I have not researched it properly - that more people watch the rest of the league clubs than the top 4. Some fans cannot bring themselves to watch top flight football - should they be excluded? Of course not.

  • Comment number 51.

    Hopefully, the new chief executive won't go on the radio the morning after an incident involving the team he supports, and discuss it even though he hasn't seen it. Like Watmore did with Adebayor vs. Arsenal.

    Good riddance.

  • Comment number 52.

    If only we could disband the FA and start again.

    Still, mustn't knock them. At leats we have the wonderful academy at Burton doing for us what Clairefontain did for France.

    Oh, right.

    Well, at least they didn't waste loads of money on a huge unneeded stadium isolated from most of the country.

    Oh.

  • Comment number 53.

    pato - what do you expect the english public to other than comment, on things completely out of there control. this is the fa board for christ sake, on voting for your local MP you doughnut. get a grip

  • Comment number 54.

    Terry's affair, Bridge's sulking, Beckham's injury, FA man resigns - all petty and irrelevant to England's World Cup campaign. Let's stick to the football and not get distracted by all this other nonsense!

  • Comment number 55.

    "football-in-canada wrote:

    The FA needs to be run like a business. This guy was a former civil servant. What on earth do government employees know about running a business?"

    Actually he was MD of Accenture Uk before becoming a civil servant so I imagine he knows quite a bit about running a business - most of the FA board seem to have experience of running businesses and football clubs into the ground!

    The leak of the email was an obvious attempt to undermine him, and I think his response was justified - he did it internally after all and didn't leak it to the press.

  • Comment number 56.

    When the herring man the trawlers, the seagulls do the laundry.

  • Comment number 57.

    Not sure why my earlier comment has been referred to the moderators but... in this tabloid media society we seem intent on undermining our own chances in a world cup year. I haven't bought a copy of the current bun since the fake sheik story - why would they do that to our own country's manager - go and do it to someone else's! And there are certain people who have their own agendas which to not serve the greater purpose.

    A memo of Whatmore's was released to the media. This could only have been from one of the members from the board. I think whoever faxed it there may have been a Bolton prefix on the number.... that's all I'm sayin! It's a shame this has led to a proactive chief exec leaving the fa. Nice one chaps.

  • Comment number 58.

    Sadly, while this appears a silly spat that has nothing to do with football, it is symptomatic of the underlying problems in football's structure that also leads to inappropriate people at the helm of club's finances. Hence the demise of Chester and Farsley Celtic at the lower end of the league looks likely to be followed by bigger clubs higher up within the next year. Almost every league this year has its positions affected by points deductions and that is not how it should be. Instead of the FA Committee and the FA executives concentrating on getting the game into a financially viable position at all levels they indulge in this. Smaller clubs may have little to do with the immediate prospects of the England team in SA, but they all play important roles in their communities and those communities deserve a better managed FA than this.

  • Comment number 59.

    Good blog David.

    Football has endured enough turmoil in recent months and the build-up to the World Cup isn't the time to make even more waves but, come the 2010/11 season, I wonder what the FA and PL's response would be to a week or two of empty stadia and club stores and unrenewed Sky subscriptions.

    If money talks, as it surely does in today's game, maybe we need to consider giving the powers that be some silent treatment.

  • Comment number 60.

    This is a sad indictment of our national game at a time when for once it was looking like it was coming together.

    I worked with Ian Whatmore about 20 years ago and before yesterday I had total faith in his ability to take the nation forwards. On that same (Andersen) team also was Andy Anson (2018 bid) - another creative talent and an excellent communicator.

    So cheers Ian - you gave it your best shot. I'm sure the doors will be open at Arsenal soon.

  • Comment number 61.

    It's likely that most of the England team will say Watmore who? His resignation will not have the slightest effect on England's chances. As for the FA and their relationship with other football authorities and club directors, it's always going to be a testy relationship when contentious issues arise.
    If however he is resigning because the FA is not in control of it's own interests and obligations and is suffering at the hands of people with more selfish interests, then something needs to be done.

  • Comment number 62.

    Skybluedave wrote: "Actually he was MD of Accenture Uk before becoming a civil servant".

    Unfortunately, that's a second strike against him. Most management consultants I've met are wannabe businessmen. And the move from Accenure to the civil service? That's progressive!

  • Comment number 63.

    Disfunctional institutions, and their officers, rarely abolish themselves.
    At least corporations can die (go bankrupt and disappear, or be swallowed up by a predator).

    If the legitimacy of the FA was taken away by removing its representation of the national team, then we could all simply ignore it.

    But, (and pleases correct me if I'm wrong) doesn't FIFA claim the right to ban teams from countries where there is deemed to be "political interference" by government?

    So it seems we have a "Catch 22" situation where, domestically, the only realistic way of reforming an unelected and unrepresentative FA is probably by governmental power.
    ....But the national team could then be banned by another unelected and unrepresentative organization, FIFA.

  • Comment number 64.

    #36

    It's probably worth noting that the English FA actually do want to investigate goal line technology further, but in a vote they were outnumbered by other football associations.

  • Comment number 65.

    The struggle to reform the out of touch F.A. is going on for 25 years and nothing has happend yet. The whole structure of the F.A. is completely outdated and the insight fighting goes on for ages.

    Everything is old fashionend, from the set up of the board, the calendar, the F.A. Cup disrupting weekend games, Wembley stadium, the distribution of money, the delay of introducing a Womens Premier League, the list is endless.

    A lot more people have to go before any of the overdue reforms can be made.

  • Comment number 66.

    The FA are useless, clueless, spineless and obviously extremley dysfunctional.

    Typical old boys network. No good for English football whatsoever.

  • Comment number 67.

    One is not enough. We need every one of the FA to resign to make any headway. The same could be said about EUFA and FIFA. Football does not come into the equation. It is all about personal power.

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    Genuine Supporters of the teams that reach the FA Cup Final will miss out on tickets because 40,000 tickets will be given to FA dignitaries and the like, the ground will be half empty for ten minutes after half time because they're all in the bar. If a genuine supporter does get a ticket on the black market he'll have to pay two weeks of his wages to get it. We could go on about Maclaren, John Terry, yellow cards, Wembley, etc etc etc etc etc etc etc. Dinosaurs eventually went extinct.

  • Comment number 70.

    Watmore couldnt change things because the people who occupy the top positions in English football dont want to change. Its as simple as that. The alarm bells have been ringing for quite some time now but nothing has been done, no wheels have been begun to be put in motion, the whole world can see it and has been screaming it to the powers that be for more than a decade now but the current situation is too cosy for them and they only care about their own self interests. Football in Britain especially has been pimped out and exploited by the very people who are supposed to have taken care of it.
    Its abundantly clear that these people simply dont care about the future of the game at all and are only interested in lining their own pockets or own self interests.
    The saddest thing about the whole crisis that football is in is that all the real football fans can see the trouble the game is in and we can all flood these forums with our valid complaints and concerns but it wont make a blind bit of difference, if anything the Watmore situation has simply shown how futile the common mans want for change is; if the guy at the top cant force some action, what chance do we have?
    I wish i could say that these people will eventually see the error of their ways when the football world collapses (as it has begun to do already) and suffer some regret, however I don't think this will be the case and they will simply shift sidewards to a place on the board of rugby union or the BBC board. You only need to look at Fred Goodwin to see how things work at the top. It doesn't matter how badly they do their job they will still get paid top dollar for it and walk away from any mess they leave behind into another high profile position without a single dent to their conscience. The world of football doesn't matter to these people, its just another way to make money for themselves.
    The world of football will eat itself alive and there's nothing we can do to stop it.

  • Comment number 71.

    " Such petty squabbling and chaos at the FA does the game no good. With only 79 days to go to the World Cup this is a distraction English football could do without - although the FA insisted his departure would have no impact on manager Fabio Capello's plans for South Africa."
    Yet another excuse in advance for England not win the World Cup. A year ago I would have fancied them to go close if not all the way, The only weakness was between the posts. Since then, injuries which will probably keep Cole & Beckham out, Ferdinand is not the same player and the John Terry "alleged" affair has taken it's toll on him.
    PS. Cole and Beckham's obvious deputies, Bridge & Lennon, look to miss out as well. On the bright side, there is still time for someone to step up to the plate.

  • Comment number 72.

    Give me this job.....I can do it. Its easy. All you have to do is.....

    Cut the number of clubs in the premier league to 18.

    Scrap the League cup or just have it for the football league clubs only.

    Introduce a winter break. and I mean a proper "break". no football matches, not flying off to asia to play a high profile "friendly".

    This will help the national team no end!!

    Bring in a rule where all prem clubs have to field atleast 9 home grown players in there 18man match day squad.

    Give it afew years and England will be favourites every time the world cup comes round!

  • Comment number 73.

    The FA is a laughing stock and today's decision not to overturn Vermaelen's red card is a case in point.
    I'm a West Ham supporter but when I saw the incident on MoTD, I found it hard to believe that a penalty had been given, let alone a red card.
    It seems that week after week, the FA finds some way of making itself look stupid.

  • Comment number 74.

    Moderators all gone home???

  • Comment number 75.

    Sounds like the English FA is about as up to the job as our one up in Scotland. It's like some gentlemans's club rather than a professional governing body. I don't know who is on the FA Board, but the guy who chairs the SFA is Chairman of Brechin City (I know, you will only have heard of them if you carry on watching the classified results to the bitter end!). This is a club who average a few hundred supporters yet their Chairman holds a position of power and influence over the whole Scottish game.

  • Comment number 76.

    Looks like my mate Colin, he had a job like that once. I should write an article about that, dont you think?

  • Comment number 77.

    Everyone knows the clubs are in trouble and no matter the arguments merits or failings it is up to those who run the game to seek a resolution before the game is dragged to the bottom of the lake. The first problem is that of financial stability and the FA must act to establish mandatory reporting carried out by independent auditors so that all clubs finances are visible if not to the public at least the FA. Tax obligations should be paid in full by all clubs. A scaled salary table should be created for each division of the FA and should not allow any club to commit more than an agreed percentage of it's income ie. 60-70%. Clubs should be required to restrict imported players to no more than 25% of their playing staff. TV rights money should be presented to the clubs annually and all clubs banned from using it for forward planning and expenditure so as to avoid a similar incident as the Setanta Sports collapse which cost Scottish clubs dearly and almost ruined the Conference League. As I'm not sure of the exact composition of the board's representation each division should have one representative for a max. of 2 terms say 3 years. Also there needs to be a thorough review of the independence of the current structure so as to regain the support of FA members. Last but not least at least 2 members of the board should be non executive government representatives. What say ye to that?

  • Comment number 78.

    #24, Johnap - On the contrary, it is the people who have been in football all their lives that are the problem with the FA. Their modus-operandi appears to be along the lines of 'well it was good enough for us back then so its good enough now' and this is one of the main reasons why any change in the sport happens at a pace that would embarass a snail. These people are the 'Blazer-brigade' that stifle progress.

    Interesting that Watmore has come from business and therefore recognises that change is essential for survival. It would appear that he has had ample time to recognise that there is no capacity for change at the FA and has jumped ship rather than kept on flogging a dead horse. This should come as a stark warning to those at Soho Square.

  • Comment number 79.

    Deep Heat I agree with your sentiments regarding the old school thinking but if someone is to take this wonderful game forward they will need some if not all the things I mentioned to be given the green light. Why? If you ask a new manager at an interview what he intends to do with your club and why you should employ him over other candidates he will list clearly and concisely his goals and will then ask you as an employer what you are looking to do with the club. Both parties must surely understand what each wants before committing themselves. Obviously this did not happen to Watmore or someone changed the goalposts after he was hired. Either way nothing changes unless people are prepared to chance their arm at change.

  • Comment number 80.

    Zeemo, what you've suggested sounds like a good idea (and sounds very similar to the system in Germany!), as it'll ensure that all Premier League players are well rested and therefore aren't too tired come the Major Tournaments. However, the League Cup should stay just so, as it does sometimes bring in a winner outside of the Top 4 (most recently Spurs) and it's an additional income stream for Football League clubs, especially from the gate receipts they receive as a result of playing someone like Arsenal. To get rid of PL teams would therefore lose this, and would make it sound more like a Johnstone's Paint Trophy, which probably isn't what League Cup organisers want.

    To have a break sounds good in theory, but in practice, it could potentially lead to further fixture congestion, even if the league were reduced to 18 teams. Plus, even in Germany, teams play friendlies during their full-month break, so I'm not sure it would work quite as well. That, plus the fact that it doesn't snow enough to make it too much of an inconvenience yet...

    I like the principle of Home-Grown players though. It could also be a good idea to introduce the same rules as for Euro competitions (8 HG players, 4 trained by the club for 3 years before they turned 21), as we'd see more youngsters getting the chance to prove themselves at a higher level. The only thing about this, from an England national team perspective, is that Home-Grown doesn't necessarily mean English - it just means a player trained by a club in England for 3 years before they turned 21. Therefore, technically in, say, the Arsenal squad, the likes of Cesc Fàbregas, Gael Clichy and Nicklas Bendtner, who are Spanish, French and Danish respectively, are all classed as Home-Grown players, because of the aforementioned rule.

    Therefore, as much as I agree on the points, there are fundamental things that would also need changing to facilitate them.

  • Comment number 81.

    In August 2005 Lord Burns proposed a reformed FA Board including two executive directors (Chief Executive and one other senior employee) and three independent non-executive directors (Independent Chairman and two other independent non-executive directors) with three directors appointed from each side of the game (National Game and Professional Game). In his opinion this structure would have had the best chance of developing and functioning as a unitary decision-making entity for football over the longer term with no one power bloc exerting undue influence.

    Instead The FA Board moved from six directors appointed from each side of the game to five directors appointed from each side of the game, adding only an Independent Chairman and the Chief Executive to the FA Board.

    The failure to adopt Lord Burns recommendations in full is at the heart of the continued conflict and in-built impasse.

  • Comment number 82.

    Deep Heat - I agree that the amateurs - the "Blazer Brigade" - at the top should not be there. Alf Ramsey had to contend with an Oxford Don as Chairman of the FA - ridiculous. What was he going to tell Ramsey?
    I am talking about the professional administrators/operations. One person that comes to mind, but I think is retired, is Steve Stride who was at the Villa. Steve started off as assistant secretary to Alan Bennet in the 70s and worked his way to the top. That is what I mean by a football man.
    Anyone who can work with Deadly Doug could handle the FA.

  • Comment number 83.

    #79 - Agree completely with what you are saying. Unfortunately however, I don't think it is always a case of the goalposts being shifted after you join an organisation in a leadership position. I think in many cases, organisations pay lip service to the idea of change with no real intent or willingness to drive it forward. Lord Triesman provides a good example of this. Some time ago the Premier-League stated that it would need to look into the issues of clubs being put at peril by the level of debt their owners were lumbering them with. It all sounded pretty commen sense and people largely agreed. Lord Triesman then said the same thing in much more straightforward, i.e. blunt, language and went further by suggesting measures that could be taken to ensure that change took place. Cue lots of bleating and virtual character assassination from many within the PL. Possibly the fact that he was actually proposing action about a problem that the PL themselves had identified upset them? Some time later, we are in a situation where the first PL club has entered into administration and is now in a very genuine fight for survival and two of the most famous clubs in the world have essentially become assets onto which foreign businessmen have chosen to structure their various business related debts.

    Apologies for the lack of dates, references etc for the above, but I'm at work and probably shouldn't be writing this anyway!

    Talking about change is easy. Actioning change is not and often it is the loudest talkers who are the slowest to act. I can't pretend to have inside knowledge about everything that has gone on any more than the next man, but my impression from what I have read is that Watmore found himself in this kind of situation and felt that the institution itself was not worth the effort. Sad times.

  • Comment number 84.

    Zeemo, I'd give you the job!

    Sweeping changes are what is needed. I'd also keep the League Cup, for the reasons laid out above. I'd add to the homegrown players stipulation, a salary cap. Definitely!

  • Comment number 85.


    Thanks for all your comments, this is clearly an issue which has got people talking. I just wanted to respond to a couple of your points: #3 jimbullard21 - I understand why you might question why we should care about the resignation of a man that many people may not have heard of. A lot of people will agree that men in suits arguing is not their idea of an interesting football story but these are the men in charge of looking after things that fans really DO care about like the future of the game, its grass roots and the financial viability of clubs. Many people feel that the Football Association should be focusing on supporting the England team ahead of the world cup in South Africa and bringing the tournament to England in 2018 instead of being distracted by political infighting, that's why I feel this story matters and has had so much coverage. #49 leeboy - thanks for your comment. You're right that the Premier League is highly successful in many ways but the FA is there as an independent body to look after the interests of the entire game not just the elite few clubs - well that's the theory anyway...

  • Comment number 86.

    The FA has always struck me as a gentlemans club running a multi-million pound sport.

  • Comment number 87.

    These are some of the things i would like the FA to do or someone new in charge to do:

    A. Invest in Grass roots. Too many bog standard (literally) pitches, get these sorted and get kids to play the right way eg the way Dutch kids do.
    B. Carry on lobbying for video Technology to be used in football. Mass overhaul required.
    C. scrap the transfer window
    D. I dont think the FA have the power but ask the league to have another punishement instead of docking points when teams go into administration.
    E. Mass overhaul of unecessary punishements always meted out to people in the game who happen to say the "wrong thing". Understand that football is a passionate game and sometimes disagreeable things are said but not punishements for EVERYTHING. Might aswell have Hitler in charge.

  • Comment number 88.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 89.

    When will Whelan stop spouting his opinions, just because he bank rolled wigan up the leagues doesnt mean he knows anything about football.

  • Comment number 90.

    The suggestion that the Premier League runs the International team is just laughable. If that happened we would not have any friendlies played, and it is likely that the players would only be released to play for England if the club manager decides that he wants them to play, and probably only for a couple of days immediately before a match. You have to consider why would a national team be run by a group of businesses that are, in the main, owned by foreigners, managed by foreigners, and consist mainly of foreign players?

    Yes, the FA probably is a dysfunctional organisation, but don't forget, that, even at the moment, it cannot do much without the agreement of the Premier League; and that is where the problem lies. The organisation that is supposed to run the sport in this country, cannot do so, because of the vested interests of a group of 20 businesses.

    The Premier League is a self-satisfied organisation that believes it's own propaganda about being the 'best league in the world'. I'm afraid that is not the case, the competition is fairly predictable, and has been throughout it's short history; the football played is often boring, tedious and unimaginative; and is progressively becoming more violent. We certainly do not see much evidence of 'the beautiful game' in this country.

    If you look at international competitions, it appears that teams with a large number of Premier League players do not perform as well as those without. The final of the last European Cup featured just 4 players from the Premier League (Torres, Fabregas, Alonzo and Ballack). The final of the last World Cup had 3 (Gallas, Makalele, and Henri). I don't expect that figure to be much better this year.

  • Comment number 91.

    "Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has called for a radical overhaul of the Football Association and even suggested the Premier League run the England team."

    That would be a terrible idea. The Premier League has a totally different agenda than the England national team. Player injuries, (pointless) friendlies etc... spring to mind. Nice try Mr. Whelan, but it isn't going to happen in either your or my lifetime ;)


    Club World Rankings

  • Comment number 92.

    There is a lot that can be learned from the structure of major sports in North America, where one governing body owns the rights to run the game at a professional level, and all other bodies are then affiliated.
    I see a lot of talk about the "grassroots" of football, which to me seems to consist of adults playing pub football on a Sunday. Or amateurs who didn't make it, playing for small amateur clubs to keep the dream alive. All very laudable, but nothing to do with roots.
    The Governing body should be focussed on developing players talented enough to play professionally, and professional competition. Nothing else. Any player who isn't playing for a pro team by 18, should have nothing to do with the FA.Any competition for non pro teams, should have nothing to do with the FA.

  • Comment number 93.

    The Premier League running the national team?

    Sorry, but that's got to be the worst idea I've ever heard from Whelan, and let's face it, that's up against some pretty stiff competition. The self interest that permeates the FA is nothing compared to that of the Premier League.

  • Comment number 94.

    Tricky situation.

    The main point coming out of this is that anyone thinking that the Premiership should run the England national team is having a laugh. Why the hell would the sort of people that run Premiership clubs care about the international game?

  • Comment number 95.

    "Premier League run the England Team"

    Yes, brilliant idea Whelan, and watch them go the same way as Pompey !

  • Comment number 96.

    OK, there are two main criteria that I believe English football is judged on abroad:

    1. The succsess of the national team.

    2. The succsess of the Premiership, specifically Premiership sides in European competitions with the main focus on the Champions League.

    Yet for a lot of reasons, we certainly can't afford too much distance between the big guns and the rest and having a Premiership club threatened with oblivion is nothing short of embarrasing.

    Therefore, would in be halfway sane to have the more well off clubs bail out the likes of Pompey when they run into trouble rather than putting the club at the mercy of suits in courts.

    Far better if football could fix football's problems.

  • Comment number 97.

    "The sooner the Premier League run the England team the better."

    This is a classic case of not seeing the woods for the trees and is probably a fair indication of what we all knew all along. The people heavily involved with clubs at this level are basically living in a fantasy land without any kind of real understanding of the problems the game is in or how bad they actually are.

    The situation with football off the pitch at the moment is a very frustrating one indeed for the football fan, as no one seems to be listening to us or acting in any way shape or form to address some of the very real serious issues that could cause the game to effectively collapse altogether in the not to distant future.

  • Comment number 98.

    The EFA remind me of the Labour party, all talk, no action. There is too much bureaucracy holding up development.

    In another sense, the people who run the FA are not football people. They run it to the benefit of themselves, to line their pockets with gold at a detrimental effect to football standards. Like the 'Labour' party, who come from wealthy, closed off backgrounds, with little interest in the standards of the country and are more interested in power and prestige.

    Why are we so surprised that the EFA,are all talk and PR, and do sweet FA to help develop the standard of English football?

  • Comment number 99.

    The biggest surprise to me in all this is that is in fact a surprise to people!

    I never though i'd hear myself say this but football has become an utter joke in the UK. The FA is a categorical farce. It refuses to introduce video technology, it lets clubs such as Portsmouth run themselves into the grounds with it's seeming lack of legislative interest in sound financial consideration but the worst thing is that there is nothing on the horizon.

    These fuddy-duddys will never change.

  • Comment number 100.

    Whelan's idea that the Premier league should take charge of the national team has one big flaw. Most of the Premier clubs are owned and run by foreign interests. Cant see that working somehow. What we need is the FA to have clear, probably reduced responsibilities for the overall game in England and the national team. No one league could do this.

 

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