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FA playing a high-risk game

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David Bond | 19:18 UK time, Thursday, 19 August 2010

The next chairman of the Football Association will be able to have held a position within the game the previous year after English football's governing body removed the controversial rule.

At a meeting at Wembley on Thursday, directors rubber-stamped the move, which had been widely expected but nevertheless remains contentious. That is because it removes the most significant reform introduced following the 2005 FA review by Lord Burns and means that Lord Triesman's eventual replacement can be recruited from inside football.

Triesman, who resigned in May after being secretly recorded claiming the Russian Football Association was working with its Spanish counterpart to bribe referees at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, was the first independent chairman of the FA. He was appointed to improve the image of the organisation's leadership after the review by Lord Burns highlighted a number of concerns over governance.

Lord TriesmanLord Triesman was forced to resign in May

The appointment was actually a compromise. Lord Burns had recommended that two independent non-executive directors should be added to the FA's 10-man board, which is divided equally between the professional and national - or amateur - game. Yet the FA council refused to sanction the move and, instead, a deal was struck to make the chairman independent.

Although the FA will require Triesman's replacement to resign any job in football before starting as chairman, removing the 12-month rule will be seen as a backward step by some. The FA is already facing criticism over the way it is run, especially in the wake of the England national side's failure in South Africa.

The FA board has also approved the appointment of headhunters to find the next chairman but no interviews will take place until after the vote to decide the hosts for the 2018 World Cup on 2 December. That is because the FA is anxious not to further damage England's bid, which has already been hurt by the high-profile departures of Triesman and, two months before that, chief executive Ian Watmore.

In fact, it is possible that a new chairman will not be in place until April 2011, which means English football's governing body will have been without strong leadership for the best part of a year. Acting chairman Roger Burden will continue until an appointment is made.

Given the fall-out from England's World Cup performance and the controversial decision to renegotiate manager Fabio Capello's contract before the team even left for South Africa, the coalition government is eyeing the latest developments at the FA with great interest.

Ministers will not act before the hosts of the 2018 World Cup have been decided, knowing that any move to clean up the FA will play badly with world governing body Fifa, who fiercely object to any government interference in the administration of the game. But discussions are already under way inside Whitehall about what to do with the FA once the vote has taken place.

Win or lose, there is a strong argument for government intervention. If England's bid is successful, then ministers will argue that the FA needs to be well run to ensure it can cope with the demands of hosting a World Cup. Lose and the government will say the FA's leadership problems during the campaign will need to be addressed once and for all.

The problem for the coalition government is that it has very few levers it can pull to ensure the FA does what it wants it to. This was one of the reasons Lord Burns failed.

One idea being discussed, however, is to appoint a commission headed by a political grandee who could examine the way the whole game is run - not just the FA but the Premier League and Football League - and, if necessary, look at introducing an independent regulator.

This is not a new idea. Far from it. Every new government threatens football with the spectre of a regulator or watchdog similar to those that exist to police the media and the utilities. Nothing ever changes.

If the FA appoints a chairman with the right reputation and skill set to sort the organisation out properly, then ministers will not dare take such a dramatic step. They might ask that the FA looks again at introducing two independent directors but, beyond that, they would consider football's problems a matter for the game itself.

The FA is playing a high-risk game in going back on the Burns report. Thanks to the World Cup bid, it has some breathing space. But if it fluffs its chance to pick a real leader who can turn the organisation around and tackle football's deeper problems, then the new government may be prepared to launch the sort of shake-up many believe is long overdue.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Politics better not get mixed with the FA. Then, if England win a bid to host a World Cup, they could be stripped of hosting if politics enter the frame.
    Look what happened to Nigeria and recall what FIFA told the French Football Federation after the government got involved.

  • Comment number 2.

    News flash....

    The Government can't do anything.

    "But if it fluffs its chance to pick a real leader who can turn the organisation around and tackle football's deeper problems, then the new government may be prepared to launch the sort of shake-up many believe is long overdue."

    Wrong.

    FIFA rules strictly prohibits government intervention. The only people that can introduce a regulator is.... The FA itself. And don't expect that to ever happen. Sepp Blatter would be ever so happy to ban England once again from any sort of tournament.

  • Comment number 3.

    the situation regarding the French Football Federation in my above post is the one regarding France's debacle at the World Cup

  • Comment number 4.

    The FA are so out of touch with actual fans, I don't think they'd recognize one if they bumped into them on the street. Your hard earned money at work ....

  • Comment number 5.

    Boemfontein horn fans
    Deaf the ear. Acapella
    You have no chance here

  • Comment number 6.

    The FA is an utter shambles, and the sooner it is sorted out the better. For me Dave Richards is the man accountable and he needs shooting as soon as possible.

    The FA are hiding behind the WC bid, and know the government can't do anything before then, and are therefore getting as many rules as they can passed before the government give them the kick up the backside they need. There is a danger that the FA will ensure the government can't do a thing however, which wouldn't be good; the FA would keep on being the horror of an organisation it is.

    Richards is simply terrible, the Times did a good article recently on his very large and very obvious incapablilites, and while he is in charge, do not expect a foward-thinking and efficient FA.

  • Comment number 7.

    The FA's big problems continue. With this crisis continuing, I expect this to severely affect England's chances of hosting the 2018 or 2022 World Cup. England do not deserve to host world cup under current problems on and off the pitch and they will continue!

  • Comment number 8.

    the initials FA are synonymous with a colloquial saying, the winter break thing should be high on the list, shame for the punters but England will never be a great team with the overworked players, its a new world, old ideas are not working.

  • Comment number 9.

    Most observers know that the FA is unfit for purpose, most also know that nothing will actually change, no matter what spin is put on things.

    The FA are simply a bunch of self-serving politicians and just like MPs, they'll say all the right things but end up doing exactly what they want to, even if it keeps English football decades behind the more forward thinking nations.

  • Comment number 10.

    and there should be more control over the fate of the England players, the foreign managers dont care, take fergusons attitude, he plays Rooney injured a few weeks before the wc, he talks scholes out of playing he makes a game of the carrick injury, for someone who has done really really well out of English football he shows no sign of recognizing this privilege, wenger is the same, does not want english players, is walcott being groomed especially, i dont think so

  • Comment number 11.

    BLUESS,well said on your last comment,but DON'T EVER SAY SHAME FOR THE PUNTERS,re a winter break,they pay week in week out

  • Comment number 12.

    the fa is useless but it is stupid to barr football related people from top jobs in the fa, can you imagine car makers saying anyone running their companys cannot be involved in the industry for 12 month's previous. football should be run by ex-footballers. They know what is needed, so let them run the game.

  • Comment number 13.

    I'm still waiting,for you to mod my comment,just yes or no,
    my bad, civil servants,no time limit

  • Comment number 14.

    it makes sense to have an independent observer their is so much corruption in world football.....and no league can survive when it lets clubs run at 600 million worth of debt , the board at the moment is more concerned with the status quo than long term stability and survival, more clubs will go into admin like pourtsmouth otherwise...

  • Comment number 15.

    The FA, FIFA, the British Government.
    It's a pretty unholy trio as far as football is concerned, isn't it?

    I wonder if perhaps we ought to invite the German FA to come and help us out. I've also read that some German journalists/newspapers give Mr Blatter a harder time than BBC moderators will allow us to.

  • Comment number 16.

    The last thing we want is a "political grandee." Anyone involved with politics will have a political agenda. Better someone from the judiciary, business or academia, though I feel that all decisions should lie entirely with the football community, however hopeless their management.

    Whatever the field, the record of government intervention is abysmal. After long years of an interventionist government, I hope that the Coalition will step back from such activism.

  • Comment number 17.

    David Bond in 'DIg at the FA' shocker. I am stunned. After his piece on England fans 'deserving an explanation for the World Cup' this comes as a huge surprise.

    I thought Mahir Bose was bad....

  • Comment number 18.

    I used to feel really strongly about politics mixing with sport, but now I find I feel much stronger about FIFA believing that they are bigger than the UN. What right do they have to insist that a Government doesnt get involved in sport in its own country? I dont believe that Governments should run sport but when its clear that the FA (of any country) has lost its way then surely its time for the people that we chose (or not) to run the country should step in a do something about it. FIFA needs to learn that that threatening countries and governments is a no-no. What happens if there is a civil war in Brazil, the FA would then be waiting for guidance on wether to travel or not. Or under FIFA rules is that not allowed either?

  • Comment number 19.

    I would happily take a ban from international football by FIFA if it meant that we finally sorted out the FA once and for all. I know that it is never going to happen, but something radical has to happen to the FA if we want to improve the future of our game.

    The governement could get involved in reforming the FA by creating a mythical QUANGO, these non elected groups have run the governement for years and if you spin the title of the group well enough it would be easy to get it past FIFA's rules!

    The key to moving football forward is to involve the people who really run the game, ie the coaches who teach the players of the future. That is how Klinsmann formulated the new German style of play, by engaging these guys. Every FA coach and club should vote on electing 6 ex players and 6 non football people to the board with a chairmen that is the best for the role, be it an ex pro or a fresh pair of eyes.

    They then need to work on increasing the number of qualified coaches in the UK. Spain has a ridiulous coach per kid ratio. I hope with the opening of the " football hub" that we can make real steps in this direction...

  • Comment number 20.

    Government interference in the matters of football associations is banned by FIFA...think again clever clogs

  • Comment number 21.

    "Government interference in the matters of football associations is banned by FIFA...think again clever clogs"

    Only because FIFA have got too big for their boots. I think there needs to be intervention from a higher authority when FA's constantly get it wrong. Its the time we got rid of the 'old boys' network and got a board in who have an idea.

  • Comment number 22.

    Isn't it about time the FA handed over the small amount of control they have left to the Premier League?

    Yes, I think so...

    Lots of love,

    Dave Richards & Richard Scudamore

  • Comment number 23.

    12. At 00:23am on 20 Aug 2010, js-1973 wrote:

    the fa is useless but it is stupid to barr football related people from top jobs in the fa, can you imagine car makers saying anyone running their companys cannot be involved in the industry for 12 month's previous. football should be run by ex-footballers. They know what is needed, so let them run the game.

    ---

    Actually you should imagine car makers having someone not involved in their industry as chairman. Good corporate governance practices indicate that half of the board (and preferably including the chairman) should be non executive directors (NEDs) - as in don't work for the company. As most companies wouldn't want their top people being a NED for a rival they are likely to come from outside of the industry. This is in order to ensure that those running the company look at the wider picture and all of the stakeholders involved not just their own narrow view with their blinkered experience. That said the CEO (who effectively 'runs the company') would be an executive director.

    Personally I think there should be a massive shake-up of the board. Maybe 2 current Premier league Chairmen, 2 Football League Chairmen, non-league representitives, maybe a former player/manager, then some other NEDs who all have decent experience.


    ---

    @#17 Mark - I had exactly the same thoughts when reading the piece!

  • Comment number 24.

    #17 Mark - David Bond in 'DIg at the FA' shocker. I am stunned. After his piece on England fans 'deserving an explanation for the World Cup' this comes as a huge surprise.

    I thought Mahir Bose was bad....

    --------------------------------------------------------------------

    Agree 100% - Sadly the BBC no longer seems to be able to give us the high standards of journalism we were once used to.

    Most of the sports Blogs are based on little more than the current tabloid title-tattle and hearsay, and quickly develop into personal attacks on whatever person/organisation the Journo currently dislikes. Mr.McNulty is bad enough with his eternal 'I told you so' attitude, but Mr.Bond sadly follows close behind.

    Please BBC, in times of drastic cuts all over the UK, save yourself a few quid and put these horrendous 'Blogs' to the sword...they are simply an ego building machine for your so called 'Sports Journalists'.

    Am I correct in thinking the BBC journos get paid per column/page of text? If so, it may explain why there are so many Blogs full of such empty tripe....

  • Comment number 25.

    Moves to clean up the FA by the Condem Coalition...is football now a devolved issue?

  • Comment number 26.

    What utter garbage.

    The new Government has far greater priorities than attempting to reorganise the FA! Even if they did decide to get involved, as previous posters have mentioned it would only lead to sanctions by Fifa.

  • Comment number 27.

    Can someone please explain why if the F.A. can continue along without a chairman for over a year - one is actually needed? What does an F.A. Chairman actually do to deserve his/her mega salary apart from act as a glorified figure-head and if one of those isn't even wanted for 'fear it might hurt the World Cup bid' or decide the future of the England National manager, why go to the expense of hiring head-hunters to bother finding one? I take it they are currently trundling along led by their C.E.O at the moment?

    What good did Lord Triesman do to sort out how the F.A. was run given it's current malaise in sorting out his successor? Give someone like Bobby Charlton or Geoff Hurst the role and let proper businessmen deal with the administrator side.

  • Comment number 28.

    Why does someone not do something ?

    You whinge about ticket prices, too many foreigners, power of TV, too many kit changes, the EPL being the powerbase and not the guardians of the game, the FA, Agents fees, players salaries.

    The whole thing is rotten to the core.

    Nothing will change because there are too many vested interests, both within this country and in FIFA.

    The only people that can change football is the fans by staying away but look, 72000 turn up after being taken the mickey out of in South Africa.

    NOTHING WILL EVER CHANGE.

    Football RIP

  • Comment number 29.

    The FA is a farce. Because it caot rei i the excesses of the EPL.

    Anyone reading between the lines of Oyston's resignation at Blackpool can sense that bungs are rife. And Oyston wouldn't play ball.......

    The reason the State wants to step in is that the FA is showing itself incapable of doing so.

    Appointing an insider is a green light for the bungs to go on, if my sense of current reality is accurate.........

    IMHO.........

  • Comment number 30.

    In an ideal world there would be the following changes.

    1. No agents
    2. Player salary Cap
    3. No sponsored stadiums
    4. Kit changes limited to once every 3-5 years
    5. Free to air Football(No Sky)
    6. Football on a Saturday with 1 big match on a Sunday afternoon
    7. No Joey Barton!

    Sadly money rules, and the Sky/Premier League will continue to fleece the fan and kill our game.

  • Comment number 31.

    The suits in the FA will continue to run and ruin the game. No one in the FA wants to change the system of committees having committees to vote on the same things. One day they will realise that this is big buisness as well as being a sport that needs to be run professionally and not by amateurs.

    I wish people would stop spouting that ex players should run the FA. They were normally after a huge pay packet and didn't care about the game. How many times have people said ex players should become referees and that hasn't happened. It's just like being a football manager. Very few great players become great managers so why would they be great administrators of the game.

    The FA should force the Premier League back fully under it's wing and start to get proper control on everything or banish them from playing in Europe as you couldn't then have two FA's in one country. But who is going to vote for this and for losing their jobs and cushy salaries for the good of football in this country. We are lacking in coaches from grass roots to the top end. We are lacking in youth developement by the FA with still no FA academy at Burton to be seen.

    All the suits do is over spend on stadium and over run on delivery. They need to rethink everything and let the next CEO and Chairman make the decisions and go with them.

  • Comment number 32.

    #30 JamTay1 - I agree with all 7 apart from maybe the kit changes every 3-5 years. I look forward to seeing the new kits. and they get good wear for the money..maybe just restricting home kit changes would be better?

    As for point 5. Free to Air Football. The government could actually do something about that by adding EPL to the protected viewing list and Fifa couldn't call that 'government interference' could they?

    #29 If Oyston knows bungs are rife he should come out and blow the cheats and con-men out of the water...with all our thanks!

  • Comment number 33.

    @ 32 JoC

    Perhaps I was a little OTT with kit changes! Just feel sorry for some of the parents. Perhaps if they were a bit less expensive.....

    The Government 'Could' do something about free to air football but Mr Murdock also has a rather large Press influence...........

  • Comment number 34.

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

  • Comment number 35.

    David

    - Are you sure you're not Nasser Hussain or his long lost brother ?

    Uncanny !

  • Comment number 36.

    I may be wrong on this, but the government does have a stick it could use to beat the FA with, Lottery Funding. All lottery funding for FA projects should be immediately withdrawn until the FA implements the Burns report in full.

  • Comment number 37.

    Give Lineker this Job!

  • Comment number 38.

    #36

    That would be government interference?! And why would the 'British' government have a view on what the 'English' FA does outwith their support for a WC bid? Football is neither a devolved issue (since England does not have a devolved parliament), nor is it open to this kind of threat. When the French government wanted an enquiry about the conduct of their WC squad, UEFA said 'No'!

  • Comment number 39.

    no matter how much money they have or not, rooney should remember what arsenal's board said recently about becoming bigger than manchester united or liverpool, that they have tried to close the gap for 10 years or more without getting close. Roman appears to have privatly come to the same conclusion @ chesea' and with the new rules coming in concerning finances, city have to qualify for the c.l this year and WIN it next year, because they cannot turn their books around in time for the following year. do as you want mufc and lfc are the real superpowers of the epl, and that is why REAL mufc fans do not want to see lfc relegate because it s still the first fixture every mufc or lfc or neutral looks for, together we dominate the honours list and we will continue to for many decades to come, Why because all the history and prestige cannot be bought or sold or held to ransom.

 

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