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Uncertainty surrounds appointment of FA chairman

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David Bond | 17:07 UK time, Thursday, 16 December 2010

With a series of big names distancing themselves from the post and the favourite, David Dein, still weighing up whether to apply, the search for a new Football Association chairman is not becoming any clearer.

Sir Keith Mills, Martin Broughton, Lord Mervyn Davies and Sir Terry Leahy have all declined advances to talk to the FA about the position, which has been vacant since Lord David Triesman resigned in May.

Dein, who until two weeks ago was the international president of England's failed World Cup 2018 bid, has become the favoured candidate in a narrowing field.

But despite spending the last week taking soundings from senior figures in football and government - including a breakfast meeting with Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt on Tuesday - he still has reservations about taking the job on.

One of the reasons for that could be the FA's decision not to give the new chairman - at this stage - the ultimate say over how the England team is run.

That is currently the responsibility of the Premier League and Club England chairman Sir David Richards and although the FA is prepared to change the set-up depending on who it appoints, it is extraordinary that they would even consider trying to recruit a big-hitting chairman without making it clear from the outset that they will be able to control the most important and high-profile role the organisation performs.

This is all the more surprising when one considers the biggest job in the first 12-18 months of the chairman's tenure will be to appoint a replacement for the outgoing manager, Fabio Capello.

To be fair to Richards, he has told the FA's professional game board in recent weeks he is prepared to stand down from his role as Club England chairman. And an FA spokesman insisted today the new manager would be signed off by the main board, overseen by the new chairman.

Former FA vice chairman David Dein

Dein is a leading contender to be the new chairman of the FA. Photo: Getty Images

But interestingly ministers are already expressing concerns over the potential conflict of interest between Richards's dual role as Premier League and Club England chairman.

And the Premier League will also come under pressure in the next few months to replace Richards with a new independent chairman. This is likely to be a key feature of the parliamentary select committee inquiry into football governance and any subsequent government review.

But the lack of clarity on the England issue is unlikely to be the only reason for Dein's hesitancy.

The former Arsenal vice chairman's age is also considered an issue. He is 67, meaning he would have less than three years before he would have to stand down under the FA's age limit for board members of 70.

One other candidate sounded out about the post is the former Premier League and Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry.

Parry, who left Liverpool after falling out with former co-owner Tom Hicks, was approached but is not thought to be on the final shortlist - drawn up by a meeting of the special nominations committee headed by Bolton chairman Phil Gartside on Monday.

The FA remains determined to press on with plans to put two or three names to the board meeting next Wednesday.

The World Cup 2018 vote humiliation is not directly related to the FA's governance problems but it has provided the catalyst for another period of introspection. A parliamentary select committee will look into the way the game is run in the new year with the government ready to set up its own review.

But despite all this the FA feels it can't afford to wait.

It has been without a full-time chairman for more than seven months.

Plus the decision must be approved by the FA council which next meets in January. Miss next week's meeting of the FA board and that won't be possible until March, delaying the process even further.

It may well be that the FA has lined up the sort of candidate with the football and business pedigree required, but get it wrong and it could increase the pressure on a body already facing a period of intense scrutiny.


  • Comment number 1.


    The appointment of the next FA Chairman is probably the most important decision the FA has had to make in a generation. After the continual failure of decisions made in the last 30 years (culminating in the recent World Cup debacle) this has proved that next Chairman needs to be a football man with experience of dealing at both a global and local level. Furthermore, the successful candidate must resolve the tensions between the Premier League, the FA, UEFA and FIFA. The only person who I think has the requisite skills, visions, credibility and energy to do this is David Dein. I am an Aston Villa supporter but can only look with tremendous admiration on his role in the transformation of Arsenal (both from a fiscal, operational and football perspective). If he is in this role for only 3 years (because of the rule to retire at 70), I believe he will deliver the transformation and leadership required that has patently failed over the last 30 years.

    The FA should crawl of broken glass to persuade him to take this role.

  • Comment number 2.

    Whoever gets it, good luck with the England team. The players need to whipped into shape, and I don't know if that's even possible. As I said, good luck to them.

  • Comment number 3.

    Perhaps they should let FIFA and UEFA choose the next FA Chairman.

  • Comment number 4.

    'Plus the decision must be approved by the FA council which next meets in January. Miss next week's meeting of the FA board and that won't be possible until March, delaying the process even further.'

    If the organisation's so bureaucratic that it can't convene a special Board meeting to ratify a new Chairman quickly, if quickly it needs to move, then it needs to submit itself to the 'common sense' test......

    Most of these folks seem to end up at a football match on a Saturday or Sunday: I'm sure they could arrange to be at the same one and do the necesary.

    Couldn't they?

  • Comment number 5.

    Great Blog, hopefully the person they employ is a better character than Sepp Blatter. Have a read of Blatter and the money making factory!

  • Comment number 6.

    Just a thought but could Mr Dein be waiting to become the man in charge of the P.L. and would rather do that than be F.A. Chairman ?

  • Comment number 7.

    I admire and repsect David Dein for what he had done in football, particularly his time at Arsenal, and I think he would make an excellent chairman of the FA. Having said that however, i don't think he is the right person for the job.
    What the FA needs is stability and someone who will be in charge for a long period of time, whereas Mr Dein can only fulfil the role for three years under the current rules. This will just lead to another situation like this in not very long where we'll be looking for yet another person to take the role. I am sure there are others out there suitable for the position, and hopefully we'll be able to persuade them to take up the task.

    Dein would make a great interim chairman if the right person can't be found now, but i would rather someone came in who could guide us for longer period than three years, unless the FA changes their rules to allow him to stay on beyond his 70th birthday. If they decide to do so then Dein would be an outstanding selection, if not, i would rather someone else were appointed.

  • Comment number 8.

    and if the FA ceased to exist.......... would anyone notice?

  • Comment number 9.

    David Dein is exactly the right man, because of his background and experience and precisely because he will be leaving after 3 years.
    The FA needs someone in full charge who is going to come in and change things radically, not someone who wants to ease themselves in and who looking forward to establishing a 10 or 15 year tenure.
    The image of the English game at the international level is frankly a joke, a whole litany of mistakes, malfunctions and out right incompetence at the highest levels in the FA are to blame, hence the FA itself needs a radical shake-up and restructure, a clear mission and set of values developed that are then expounded from top to bottom within the national game - if accommodations with the Premier league cannot be made, then alternatives will be needed, even if this means picking our future national side soley from the Championship (and lets be honest they couldn't do much worse than what happened in SA with our supposedly very best players in the side).
    The problem is that whilst the FA may want/need David Dein -whats in it for him? And 'there's the rub'!

  • Comment number 10.

    Whoever takes over needs to put some serious weight into grassroots and stand up to the Premier League.

  • Comment number 11.

    The problem with the FA is its lost is roots.
    They should only be seen as the main Organisation of Football, yet seem to want to run everything.
    I think the FA should be split into two running the 'Game' and the other one the Business side.
    The Game side can help Grassroots football, keep the rules and the other runs the FA's Competitions and boost the profile of the FA and also Wembley Stadium.
    The Game side can have ex footballers, current coaches running it and the Business side run by business men...rather then the Businessmen running both sides.
    The Chairman and CE will overlook both sides of the Organisation.
    Heck...Ive just solved the FA's problem....shame they dont read blogs like this eh?

  • Comment number 12.

    The getting of wisdom comes from allowing people over the age of 70 years to be on the board of the F.A. It's no wonder and no suprise that the beautiful game is in such mire ?

  • Comment number 13.

    If David Dein gets the job then Daniel Levy gets to decide if he wants to keep Harry at the Lane, as night follows day.

  • Comment number 14.

    David Dein, impartiality and bias. Wrong choice for the job. That means he'll get it.

  • Comment number 15.

    I just can't see a cuccessful resolution. The FA is just as corrupt as FIFA...and we all know how the latter go about doing their business.
    The FA is full of hangers-on who wouldn't last five minutes leading other industries. But, then again, the FA isn't like other industries - it provides meal tickets, job for the boys and salaries consistent with the millions of pounds football fans dish out every year.

  • Comment number 16.

    "It may well be that the FA has lined up the sort of candidate with the football and business pedigree required, but get it wrong and it could increase the pressure on a body already facing a period of intense scrutiny." [David Bond]
    Scrutiny, what scrutiny ? The FA limps from one poor decision to the next with little or no scrutiny.
    Appointing a PL man as next chairman beggars belief when one of the most pressing overdue tasks for the FA is to attempt to tackle the greed and self interest of the Premier League (though I fear the genie has been out of the bottle for too long now) which is to the detriment of football in England.

  • Comment number 17.

    I seem to recall Lord Sugar expressing an interest in this role earlier in the year. I think he would be a great appointment as someone to drag the fa into the 21st century. It needs straight talking and move away from the same old faces filling their faces at the trough.

  • Comment number 18.

    Why is the Government wasting more of our money setting up 'a parliamentary select committee to look into the way the game is run'? Am I correct in thinking under current Fifa rules no outside power can wield any direct influence or control over the nations F.A. or risk being banned? Didn't the French get into trouble over this quite recently? Time to get rid of all the quangos and let one body run the whole of football.

  • Comment number 19.

    I think David Dein could give the FA the good kick up the backside it needs. He has been in and around the FA for a very long time and has the business understanding of football. Hopefully he can bring the FA into the 21st century and pass on a much better run FA to the next chairman. I'm not sure about this 70 years old age thing. Maybe the chairman should be given a 5 year term and then pass it on to someone else.

  • Comment number 20.

    So Rick Parry's name has been mentioned?

    He presided over years of financial mismanagement at Anfield and then helped sell the club to two clowns who almost bankrupted Liverpool. Taking the deal which worked out best for him, not the club. Whilst all the while professing to be a Liverpool fan.

    So Financial mismanagement, dubious morales, lack of common sense or decency.... He sounds perfect for the FA.

  • Comment number 21.

    @ 17

    Alan Sugar would be an awful choice. He is not particualrly interested in football and was a terrible chairman.

    David Dein on the other hand was an excellent chairman who has worked in football for a long time now.

    Sir Alan isn't the bees knees as a lot of people assume.

  • Comment number 22.


    Totally agree.

    Just do what they are in the process of doing in Scotland: commission an independent report on the FA and operation of the game.

    In Scotland the McLeish Report has just recommended the overhaul of the Scottish Football Association, a revision of its operations and internal structures in a complete organisational re-vamp of the game. The SFA has accepted the need for change and the recommendations.

    Better value than a parliamentary sub-committee and keeps the overtly 'political' aspect out of reach of any criticism from UEFA on the grounds of interference.

    After all you guys don't want to risk antagonising them any further eh!!!

  • Comment number 23.

    An 'independent' review is a must - not one carried out by Lord whathisname or Sir fingybob and their respective cronies who will cream millions from the FA who, in turn are financed by the fans.
    As for putting the likes of David Dein, Rick Parry et al, given their dubious behaviour at club level, I am amazed at the suggestion that they could bring the FA into the 21st century - it's not in their interest!

  • Comment number 24.

    FA Chairman...? Let's see. He (or she) needs to be a total bureaucrat, has to be 'one of the boys', should know little or nothing about football at any level, greedy, self serving and have the absolute ability to be Sepp Blatter's bitch. Who could be all that??

    I suggest Nick Clegg.

  • Comment number 25.

    Clegg could only be Vice-Chairman.

  • Comment number 26.

    Mr Bond...... its clear from the number of comments on this blog, and the number on your previous FIFA / FA one that most football fans are, sadly, uninterested in the FA shambles.
    I hope your "Xmas bonus" ((I'm not being literal, mods)) is not directly proportional to the number of comments a blog generates. If so can I suggest you quickly pen a blog about Mr Beckham and the BBC Sportsview Pantomime of the Year.
    Most 'nouveau' sports fans (and the BBC ?) are, I suspect, more interested in the triumph of celebrity over substance.

  • Comment number 27.

    How Dave Richards ever became so high up in the England set up I'll never know. He was the chairman that took Sheffield Wednesday down from the Premier League then jumped ship as we spiralled out of control.
    Thanks Dave.

  • Comment number 28.

    How about Steve Coppell? When he left Bristol City and retired from football management he stated that he would be willing to take another role in football at some point in the future and despite what many fans believe there are some that do appreciate his vast knowledge of the game.

    I'm sure such a role would be perfect for Coppell. It'll allow him to spend time with his family, and he has the knowledge of the game in England behind him. Managers would back him, countries would respect him and I'm sure the FA would ensure that his business decisions were always sound.

  • Comment number 29.

    We're still awaiting the results of the FA's "root and branch" enquiry from the 2008 qualifying failure....

    FIFA or the FA which is worse? The county FA officals should just stay within their county FA's only (too many cooks spoil the broth) and the FA should appoint one strong leader - David Dein for me.

  • Comment number 30.

    the real problem is the chairman of the FA is likened to the manager of a village team, charged with winning the PL,or the deck chair attendant on the Titanic. The FA dont really want a dynamic big hitter, cos the first thing he,d do is sack half the blazers and install a root and branch reform of this antique roadshow that has stumbled from one crisis to another. Since it isnt clear yet what he,d really do it,s not possible to know if any candidate is ideal..... Hmmmmm think that last sentence pretty much summed up 100 yrs of footballs governing body. Napoleon once said "if you want to know if a fish is rotten , look at it,s head." Proving Eric C wasnt the only Frenchie who liked his poetry

  • Comment number 31.

    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.

  • Comment number 32.

    How about bringing back Lord Triesman? He lost his job because he claimed that there were corrupt practices at FIFA, he has subsequently been proven right.

  • Comment number 33.

    All my fears are assuaged. I thought that football, a game of the people for the people, was going to continue to be ruled by the ultra-rich and businessmen who I believed in the past have not acted in the best interest of our national sport.

    But no longer. Now that Prince William, a man born into privilege, will never want for anything and who cannot possibly understand what it is like trying to scrimp and save to occasionally afford a ticket to see your team, is keeping an eye on the whole process of searching for a chairmen.

    Problem solved. Fears allayed.

  • Comment number 34.

    The English game is far too entrenched with businessmen at its top end, its impossible now for the FA to appoint anyone who is going to give it the damn good shake it needs. Problem is this in a nutshell: Football is very big business, for the game to return to the fans and it being about the sport and not the money, someone would have to shift the game and it would hurt the money-men's pockets too much. Its not even about getting a balance between the two, its about bleeding the game and the fans dry.
    The FA's biggest problem in terms of making the national team credible is the Premier League.
    The Premier League is the English nations ace in the hole, worth more than any other league, generates more money than any other league...
    Foreigners.. The clubs in the league are owned and financed by foreign investors who spend big bringing foreign players to the league. Investing in youth takes too much time for billionaires who want success tomorrow at any cost. This has hurt the nations prospects to no end and will continue to make them worse.
    The solution?
    Well the favourite one is introducing a home-grown cap +5 players in starting line must be English etc. Simple right?
    But wait.... we have the gentlemen from the Premier League here and a bunch of foreign owners who seem to be objecting furiously! They dont like this idea as English players arent very good at all! This will set the Premier League and its clubs back on the European front and will make the league less financially appealing. Also the owners dont want a team of players running around their billion pound playing fields who dont even have a basic grasp of how to play the game.
    So it simply wont work, I know what your thinking... Why should the FA care about what the Premier League is doing, they are both two different organisations right?.....;)

  • Comment number 35.

    I'd nominate Christian Purslow, who did outstanding work at Liverpool, especially at the end to help oust the dreaded yanks. He has also shown that he has morals, unlike his predecessor, Rick Parry, who had sold the club to the yanks because it meant he had kept his job. Purslow helped pulled the plug on the yanks, knowing it meant his own end at the club. I think the FA need someone with that moral fortitude in charge, and he is young, as much as I support Dean, I think his age works against him here, but I would like to see him replace some other deadwood at the FA.

    And people are suggesting Rick Parry??? HELL NO!

  • Comment number 36.

    How about Karren Brady? She has experience in running football clubs. She is also young enough to retain the position for a number of years, which I think is necessary.

  • Comment number 37.

    The FA is, or should be, essentially country before club.
    The self-interested PL is club before country.
    The two are mutually exclusive.


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