Bernstein has tough task on his hands
New Football Association chairman David Bernstein has just told me it would be preferable if Fabio Capello's replacement as England manager is English.
Bernstein also said he will be fully involved in all the major decisions involving the national side. And so he should, you might say.
Responsibility for the England team is the most high profile role the FA performs and it would be unthinkable for the chairman not to be in control of it.
But such is the FA's confusing structure that, until Bernstein's appointment, it was unclear whether the new chairman would actually have any say in England's affairs.
That's because Sir David Richards, the Premier League chairman, is also head of Club England as well as the chair of the FA's international committee. Despite letting it be known in recent weeks that he is prepared to stand aside to remove this apparent conflict of interest, Richards has been the man in charge.
Bernstein's insistence that he has a role in the running of the England set-up was a key condition of him taking the job. With that issue now cleared up, his belief that it would make sense for an Englishman to replace Capello is therefore significant.
With Capello's contract running until after Euro 2012, finding a successor, English or otherwise, is hardly the most pressing task Bernstein faces. A parliamentary inquiry is due to start early in the new year into football governance, while the government is quietly building up the pressure on the FA to modernise.
Bernstein told me he was not the sort to bang heads together and that he would use diplomacy to try to resolve any differences inside the FA.
Bernstein's appointment came as a surprise. For once, an important FA decision did not leak out and the first the board knew about it was when he was proposed by a four-man nominations committee, headed by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside, at 1000 GMT on Wednesday. But once put to them, it took only 15 minutes for the committee to unanimously rubber-stamp his appointment, prompting a press release at 1038 GMT.
While the decision to go with Bernstein may have caught many unawares - including the media - giving the job to the 67-year-old will be seen as a smart move by the FA.
A chartered accountant, Bernstein has a good business track record, having served on the boards of a number of companies in the clothing and leisure sector, including French Connection, Ted Baker and Blacks. He was also Manchester City chairman for five years during the time the club negotiated its move to Eastlands and has connections with the grassroots of the game as president of the National Association of Disabled Supporters.
Crucially, Bernstein has also spent the last two years as chairman of Wembley Stadium. The FA's finances are tied so closely to the £800m venue that it makes absolute sense to combine the two roles.
Having not been involved in running City for six years, Bernstein is technically independent - and that will be welcomed by the government, which was worried the FA might turn inwards as it comes under pressure to reform.
The Premier League, which has tried to stay out of the search for a successor to Lord Triesman, was also saying positive things privately about Bernstein. That is crucial. Triesman was undermined in his efforts to change the FA once he criticised the levels of debt in the Premier League. But Bernstein's track record and collaborative style mean he will start the job in February with a lot of good will behind him.
And after a terrible year for the FA, the English game's governing body will hope Bernstein's arrival is the catalyst for a much brighter 2011.