Bernstein to implement change at the FA
David Bernstein might have been speaking to the FA council on Tuesday when he talked of the scope for "sensible, progressive reform" but the new chairman knew only too well that a far wider audience would be listening.
Just last week the Sports Minister Hugh Robertson described football as the worst governed sport in Britain and with the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee about to start its inquiry into the way the game is run, Bernstein takes over the FA at a time of intense scrutiny.
His remarks, given in a speech to the council after they had voted unanimously to approve his appointment, made it clear that the sport's governing body needed to adapt to ensure it was running the game credibly.
He went on to add: "I expect to be returning later in the year with some proposals for your support."
Bernstein takes over the FA at a time of intense scrutiny. Photo: Getty
The FA said Bernstein would spend the first few weeks in his new role listening to the views of people across the game before drawing up a programme of changes some time in March.
Top of the government's wish list is the appointment of two independent directors to the FA board to dilute the Premier League's influence over key decisions and add some much needed experience from outside the football bubble.
But the council has proved extremely resistant in the past to this proposal. And for all the government's frustration with the FA there is really very little ministers can do if the council defy any fresh attempts to change.
Ministers hope that a damning report from the select committee will shame those against change to finally cave in and accept the need for reform. But if they don't there have to be serious questions over the government's willingness to introduce a state appointed regulator.
Although the coalition government's founding agreement included a target to increase supporter involvement in clubs, that is pretty limited in its scope.
The Conservative Party's "big Society" vision is not exactly compatible with the appointment of state regulators and, let us be honest, this government has bigger problems to deal with before addressing football, no matter how great the sense of embarrassment Prime Minister David Cameron might have felt following the failed 2018 World Cup vote.
Having said all that their tactic of putting pressure on Bernstein may just work. His words on Tuesday suggest the message has already got through.