BBC BLOGS - David Bond
« Previous | Main | Next »

Bernstein to implement change at the FA

Post categories:

David Bond | 18:01 UK time, Tuesday, 25 January 2011

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."

David Bernstein

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.


  • Comment number 1.

    If he can put through the reforms needed to improve grassroots, bring up the technical standard of English players and ease the strangehold that the Premier League has over football in this country then I'll be impressed. Actually, if even one of these happens I'll be impressed. He did a good job at French Connection and Man City, not sure about the Wembley Stadium Ltd business though.

  • Comment number 2.

    I hope he can a good job and help increase good English youth players.

    SAVE 606 PLEASE!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    David - "no matter how great the sense of embarrassment Prime Minister David Cameron might have felt following the failed 2018 World Cup vote.....".
    I would have thought (hoped) the Prime Minister would be going all out to bring about change in the FA after the embarrassment he and other senior figures suffered over the World cup bid fiasco... 'both guns blazing' ... its our only hope in fact!!

  • Comment number 4.

    Parachuted in by the EPL, his agenda is set for him, The FA will roll over whilst the EPL hoovers up what is left of English football

  • Comment number 5.

    "4. At 8:41pm on 25 Jan 2011, slummoose wrote:

    Parachuted in by the EPL, his agenda is set for him, The FA will roll over whilst the EPL hoovers up what is left of English football"

    I doubt it. The PL have demonstrated to most people's satisfaction that they have no interest whatsoever in the rest of english football.

  • Comment number 6.

    He has a lot to do, but the FA need to stop trying to sort the cosmetics and seriously get into the problems in English football.

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    You can't help but wonder how a EPL product will move towards diluting the unhealthy self interest of the EPL.
    #7 - No. Is someone going to start a petition to kick sexists, bigots and homophobes out of football - probably not as there will only be one or two left.

  • Comment number 9.

    a mind numbingly boring article.

    if you are the BBCs sports editor then no wonder 606 is closing.

    it is a pity no wonder thought of getting rid of you instead

  • Comment number 10.

    Will the EPL let the FA reform itself?

    I doubt it.

  • Comment number 11.

    On Bernstein's appt just before Christmas, another David said this,

    '...My hope is that David Bernstein, with the great talents that he’s got, yes, he has diplomatic skills; yes, he has business skills; yes, he is a very good person....I am still an idealist enough to believe that some of these people can work together and I hope for example, that David Bernstein will include David Dein in the work that he does..., the worst thing that could happen today is that David Dein’s international skills and the international regard that he has are lost to football forever...... I still haven’t lost my belief that if only the game could be brought together by somebody who has teh skills to do that, without, frankly, some of the impediments that we in this last generation found ourselves having to deal with, ... the problems are basically there whoever the chairman is....

    - the absence of agreed priorities for the game as a whole,
    - the dysfunctional structure of the game,
    - the glaring failures of corporate governance in football in this country

    .... talked about reforming the FA this is not about reforming the FA it is about reforming football as a whole in this country...... The question is, can he bring the various talents around the football world, can he bring those talents together in a way that predecessors found it impossible to do..? The truth of the matter Alan Sugar said himself very recently, you could have a combination of, err, Alan Sugar, David Dein, Digby Jones – you know, some of the great business people over the years, throw in the late Mother Theresa as well...unless you address the structural issues and the corporate governance issues and, above all, decide what the priorities of our football are, you will never make real progress.'

    Gentlemen (EPL & FA) - choose your weapons.....

  • Comment number 12.

    Thats five minutes i wont get back. yawn

  • Comment number 13.

    Nothing will change. The last few said they wanted change but resigned because the Dinosaurs resisted everything.

    It won't be any different this time around. Fans need to stop going to matches to get the message through, one man will never make the change happen.

  • Comment number 14.

    It'll be all-change at the FA.
    Change of colour for the 2012 blazers ?
    Changes to the lunchtime wine-list ?

  • Comment number 15.

    Turkeys don't vote for Christmas...

    The Best thing the FA could do is work on focus on grass roots to really change the culture and techniques by investing in an education programme. Recreational football pulls people and communities together and needs support to thrive and survive in these hard times.

  • Comment number 16.

    Hopefully Mr Bernstein can help eradicate the gross inconsistencies that a in evidence from our match officials.
    I would also like the FA to introduce a system where when a referee or linesman makes a dubious or controversial decision he explains why after the game before the cameras,how refreshing that would be for the game and in particular the fans.

  • Comment number 17.

    Completely agree with the above post


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.