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Bernstein has tough task on his hands

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David Bond | 14:32 UK time, Wednesday, 22 December 2010

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.

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Bernstein wants an Englishman as manager of the national side

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.

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Former FA boss Mark Palios on Bernstein's appointment

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.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    David - Usually I am not in favour of politicians being involved in football but the forthcoming enquiry into Governance is absolutely essential. The only fear I have with this appointment is that 'banging heads together' may well be necessary, but that is not Bernstein style. So FA got the process right this time (no leaks) but the end result, not too sure!

  • Comment number 2.

    I wasn't even aware that Mr. Bernstein was in the running? To me it seems like yet another F.A. appointment from within, the same old..same old. Mr. Bernstein has been chairman of Wembley Stadium the F.A.'s home and to be honest that hasn't run too smoothly over recent years has it?

    He said he 'wasn't the type to bang heads together' when that's exactly what's needed in the old boys club. The F.A. needs reinvigorating and David Dein was the man to do it (someone with the foresight to bring in an Arsene Wenger). I'm interested to discover why you think giving the job to a 67 year old was a smart move..are you suggesting he's yet another stop-gap guaranteed another golden handshake and a knighthood in a couple of years David?

  • Comment number 3.

    Judging from the reaction across twitter from various hacks, its seems a reletively positive appointment. I don't know how much the appointment will differ from Dein. I, personally was sceptical about everyone talking up Dein. People talk about he negociating and networking skills. But England only got one vote for the 2018 bid. He was part of the 3 man arbitration panel that allowed Wimbledon to move to Milton Keynes. And he is still closely linked to Arsenal.

    Bernstein seems a sound appointment. He is experienced with the premier league and how it works, but been away long enough to be seen as independant. Involved with wembley, and also has links to grass roots. Also, with him appointing Trevor Brooking to the board of the NFC is a very promising start

  • Comment number 4.

    # JoC
    I agree with much of your comments at 2.
    As far as the age thing is concerned I think both David's are in their 68th year and apparently the Chairman has to retire at 70 under current FA rules -so it would affect them both the same! It might actually be better to have some one of that age, who cannot seek to 'ease their way in' and/or who is just looking to ensure a 10 or 15 year tenure. What the English Game needs at the FA just now is an experienced 'gun-slinger' character who will clean up 'Dodge city' (the FA!) then get out of town pronto! (Sorry couldn't resist!)

  • Comment number 5.

    Maybe that was why Dein was talked up. He's also a 67-year-old football club ex-exec.

  • Comment number 6.

    did they really chose a guy responsible for Wembley and all the incompetence surrounded it in the last couple of years?

    did they really pick the accountant David instead of the visionary one?

    unanimously?

    do we need any further comments?

  • Comment number 7.

    #4 So if the retirement age is 70..he has 2 years to 'shake-up' the F.A?

    It really is laughable isn't it? Jobs for old boys with a nice fat pension pay-off no doubt? Is the Chairman just a figure-head with the C.E.O. wielding the power and if so why should we care?

  • Comment number 8.

    Good Luck Mr Bernstein..but from your article I fear the man is just like Blatter and is good with moeny and not football!!!

    Have a read of Blatter and the Money Making Factory...

    http://upper90magazine.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/blatter-and-the-money-making-factory/

  • Comment number 9.

    bernstein will do a fine job surely.
    stop your vitrol anti-semites!

  • Comment number 10.

    Bernstein should do a good job at the FA

  • Comment number 11.

    I guess this means the premier league has got its own man at the head of the FA? So the chances of real reform: like introducting all the reforms from the burns report are dead, because the need for two Independent board members.

    This is really needed to break the tie between the amature "national" game reps and others faction (like county FA's and womens football etc) vs the football league and premier league faction.

    This needed to have any hope that it can fight back against the Premier league short termism and lack of self control in terms of owners and wages.

  • Comment number 12.

    As a former Chairman of Manchester City,he is ideally placed to become the new Chairman of the F.A. He is well used to failure. In fact in his time at City he never experienced any success! I have supported City since I was eight years old.I've been to lots of matches.I've only missed a few.I've never seen them win a cup and now I'm 42!!

  • Comment number 13.

    It's interesting that you don't say a dickie bird about the FA's relationship with FIFA David. Perhaps you could enlighten us about where Panorama's allegations about FIFA stand, and where they are going next, or did the BBC's concern for the public interest start and end with the WC vote at the beginning of December?

    I'm a Man City fan but I have to say I'm none the clearer about what David Bernstein's appointment is going to mean for grass roots football or England, other than that he wants an English manager. And I suspect no-one else is either. It's difficult not to conclude that nothing's changed, which, to replicate Mr. Bernstein's legacy at Man City, would be confirmed with the appointment of Stuart Pearce as Fabio Capello's replacement.

    DB left City for financial reasons, and with his involvement with Wembley, it looks like it might have been financial rather than football reasons why he is the new Chairman. 'Diplomacy' rather than 'not the sort to bang heads together' sounds like Ron Greenwood, not Brian Clough, Stuart Pearce, not Ian Holloway.

    Perhaps you can hear the sigh of exasperation. I hope I'm wrong, but I won't hold my breath.

  • Comment number 14.

    David,
    Was the new emperor wearing an FA blazer with a PL badge ?
    Did you ask him how he plans to stuff the PL genie back in the bottle ?
    I haven't waded through what Mr Bernstein said yesterday but I bet he didn't say much about shaking up the PL..........

  • Comment number 15.

    David Bernstein is a superb, far-sighted appointment. I am shocked that the Man City supporter (Drooper) doesn't appreciate what he did for his club. More than anyone else in the past thirty years Berstein revitalised, rejuvenated and modernised City He not only oversaw their move from the 2nd Division to the Premiership, but he negotiated an amazing no-cost deal with Manchester City Council to lease Eastlands after the Commonwealth Games. That saved City countless millions. He also revolutionized everything to do with merchandising and licensing within the club. In his quiet, non-confrontational way, he will effect massive change in English football - Dein, I feel, would have alienated far too many important potential collaborators in the mammoth challenges facing English (and world) football. Oh, yes, and incidentally Bernstein stepped down from the chairmanship of City principally because even his consummate diplomatic skills did not enable him to contain the megalomanic lunacies of one Kevin Keegan.

  • Comment number 16.

    Don't these guys want to make things better? Don't they want to improve England's status in the world game. We needed Mrs Thatcher. We got Ian Duncan Smith.

  • Comment number 17.

    The old boys network wins through yet aqain. Jobs for the boys is the way of the FA, exactly like FIFA. And exactly like FIFA, the FA has no desire and no intention of changing.
    The FA has needed a major overhaul for 30+ years, and this appointment has ensured that won't happen for even longer.
    How can we all complain about the actions and workings of FIFA when our own FA set the standards in that type of conduct?

  • Comment number 18.

    #9 North London wrote: 'stop your vitrol anti-semites!'

    ...err did I miss something? As far as I know no-one bought any mention of religion into it. I believe David Dein is also Jewish so no-one is discriminating at all.

    It just seems odd to bring in a guy 'to create a long-term vision for our game' that has only 2 years to do anything before he's forced to retire under F.A. age rules. David said in his report on the main news programme that one of his main tasks will be seeking a replacement for Mr. Capello, but Capello's contract could outlast Bernsteins?

  • Comment number 19.

    Hopefully David Bernstein will, for the longer term, sort out the boundaries between the FA interests; which should be concerned with the Governance of Football in England and the Premier League interests, which should be about running the 'Business' of football in England.
    If Bernstein can do that, then get out of the 'firing line', he will have made his mark on the game in this Country which will last for decades-Good Luck David, you will need it!

  • Comment number 20.

    # wellinever223 [19]
    Spot-on, that is exactly whats needed, but is David Bernstein up to the task?
    I suppose anyone who could 'breathe life' back into Manchester City, must have some hidden talents (and no sense of shame), so who knows maybe he can pull it off!

  • Comment number 21.

    #15, I'm glad to hear your stamp of approval Socratesthewise, particularly in relation to finances, about which I have to admit you know more than I do. I hope you're right about the massive change, but I'm not reassured when we seem to be talking about money, and not football.

  • Comment number 22.

    That's a fair point, Drooper, but Bernstein knows as much about football as he does about money (his knowledge of the latter is considerable) - he has frequently described himself as a genuine 'fan'. He is also quietly tough in the hornet's nest of football governance - he has already out-manoeuvred that uber-shark, Mike Ashley, in their business dealings, and will bring a much needed touch (more than a touch) of common sense and decency into the game.

  • Comment number 23.

    Invest in grassroots Bernstein! Where's our Clairefontane?

    http://www.inofftheghost.wordpress.com

  • Comment number 24.

    Another rich faceless bureaucrat chosen to help run football in this country , wonder why I'm not surprised!?!?!

  • Comment number 25.

    I am very suprised by some of the negative reaction I have heard and read about David's appointment. It seems that few people have actually bothered to read his CV and judgements are being made before he has even stepped through the door. I have had the privelege of working in a company Chaired by David and I believe that he is an outstanding appointment and will do a great job. He has extensive expereince in a range of businesses outside football but also has great football experience and not just the premiership. Everybody should now get behind him to make this a great success.

  • Comment number 26.

    This is our problem in this country with sports, we created a role [Presdent of FA] that never existed before to give William [because he is an aristocrat], what in the blue does he know about football administration, pure nonsense.


    TheFA's puppet dog [Bernstein], clearly theFA were scared of putting the more in-your-face & demanding character of David Dein as Chairman

  • Comment number 27.

    The FA is a useless organization that has failed to restructure football development in England to the point where I see no possibility of England ever winning a major tournamet, regardless of who the manager is. It is also clear that we will never stage a major tournament as we cannot play FIFAs game without compromising our own rules of governance.

    Therefore, the whole discussion is sadly irrelevant!

  • Comment number 28.

    Yet another woeful move by the FA. Probably a very capable man in his field, but once again, not someone who has the football background to gain any respect amongst the masses, and so consequently, won't get the respect of his peers either.

    The mere fact that certain people are praising his appointment as "a way to get closer to FIFA" makes me shiver with disgust. The FA has become the master of making bad decisions to fix previous bad decisions and we wonder why things get worse and not better.

  • Comment number 29.

    Why oh why do we have to have someone highly experienced and over qualified like Bernsteion to be chairman of the FA. Why can't we have a person who just loves football and is just an ordinary fan who wants to see a turnaround in the sport that suits ordinary fans: cheaper tickets, lower player salaries, fairer competition, etc. and sorry but less foreigners in our leagues. Anyone with the right heart for the sport can do the job...all they need is the necessary support personnel. I wish, really wish, football would change purely for the benefit of the fans and that 'every team' had a fair chance at winning a league or a cup. Until someone is appointed as chairman away from of the business perspective of the game, it will always just be that, a business. Football is lost in space like many things in our society today.

  • Comment number 30.

    Selhurst - yes, it would be nice if we could have someone with a genuine interest in football for its own good as FA Chairman. The trouble is, football now generates such vast sums of money that we probably do need someone with decent experience of high level business. That having been said, Bernstein doesn't sound like an a man with the desire to tackle many of the ills that money has brought to football & is probably seen as a classic safe pair of hands.

  • Comment number 31.

    Blah, blah, blah...couldn't care less...football's rotten to the core and I've no doubt this will change nothing!!!

  • Comment number 32.

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

  • Comment number 33.

    I have a question about the planned parliamentary inquiry - how much public money is actually utilised in football governance?

    I agree that football governance needs to be sorted out but what sort of actions and recommendations will this committee be making?

    Most importantly however, do we need the government meddling in every private business?

  • Comment number 34.

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

  • Comment number 35.

    "Bernstein can help FA relations with Fifa"

    Who cares? We were treated with contempt by FIFA, promised votes which didn't materialise, and then Blatter than says the country of fair play is a bad loser. We can't get the world cup until 2030, so why on earth should we be setting out to repair relationships as though we did anything wrong. What exactly have we to gain from FIFA other than the right to host the world cup? Blatter and co. will be gone when bidding for the 2030 world cup is undertaken, lets have good relations with those people. This country has done a great deal to help other countries in the development of the game, sonmething unacknowleged by Blatter. We should now retreat from that and let FIFA who earn billions from the world cup pay for it.

  • Comment number 36.

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

  • Comment number 37.

    "Bernstein can help FA relations with Fifa"

    I agree with Mikel angulus.
    Who cares about FIFA?
    they are a bunch of self important losers.
    I would appoint Henry V if possible. Failing that, anyone who knows how to wield two fingers "Agincourt" style

  • Comment number 38.

    mikel angulus -

    I have to completely agree with you, like you say, exactly what do we have to gain from cosying up to FIFA now? We should do the bare minimum and strongly and consistently push for change and reveal the rott of the Blatter era.

 

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