Lawrie Sanchez accuses FA chief executive Mark Bullingham of being 'disrespectful'

By Simon StoneBBC Sport
Lawrie Sanchez
Sanchez's last managerial role was in Greece with Apollon Smyrnis which he left in 2014

Lawrie Sanchez says FA chief executive Mark Bullingham was being "disrespectful" when he said a former player "might not be the right person" to replace Greg Clarke as chair of the organisation.

Bullingham made his comments in an interview with the BBC on 20 November just as Sanchez was gaining an MBA from Salford University.

Famous for scoring the winner in the 1988 FA Cup final, Sanchez made over 500 appearances for Reading and Wimbledon, and also played for Northern Ireland, before a management career that included 255 games in charge of Wycombe and spells with Fulham and Northern Ireland.

Now 61, Sanchez got a degree at Loughborough University in 1982 and feels Bullingham's view is outdated.

"I find those comments disrespectful," Sanchez told BBC Sport.

"Forty years ago players were very deferential. My generation could be managers, which is something I did, but that was it as far as the game is concerned. Perhaps with the exception of Trevor Brooking the top players didn't get into senior positions running football.

"Mark Bullingham's comments surprised and disappointed me. It was very dismissive of a generation of players."

Clarke stepped down earlier this month after using "unacceptable" language when referring to black players.

Former Chelsea defender Paul Elliott, the chairman of the FA's inclusion advisory board, was mentioned as a candidate to replace Clarke but Bullingham said the right candidate needed to be someone who could "run a board of a £450m business".

"To say players are not capable of doing it is not right," said Sanchez. "I look at Dave Whelan. He was a player who went on to run a multi-million pound enterprise."

Former Wigan Athletic chairman and owner Whelan founded the DW Sports chain of gyms and stores.

"Managers may not be the CEO of their organisations but, at the top level, they are making multi-million pound decisions when a player is purchased," Sanchez continued. "Likewise for the smaller clubs, when £100,000 is being spent on a player, that is a major business decision for that company.

Lawrie Sanchez scores the winner in the 1988 FA Cup final
Sanchez famously scored the winning goal for Wimbledon in the 1988 FA Cup final against Liverpool

"Ex-players and managers have an awful lot to offer. It feels like when they have finished, they are put into ambassadorial roles to shake a few hands or meet people before games to tell a few stories. They should be at the very heart of decision-making around the game."

Sanchez cites the example of Bayern Munich, where former Germany World Cup star Karl-Heinz Rummenigge is chief executive, Uli Hoeness is deputy chairman, Oliver Kahn is on the board and Hasan Salihamidzic is the sporting director of an organisation that embraces former players.

"It is within a lot of players to do great things," he said, citing Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford for having helped the government to change its mind on free school meals.

"The course I have just finished makes you aware that there aren't enough former players and participants at the top of the decision-making processes within their sport.

"Bayern Munich is the classic example. It is the biggest club in Germany and the biggest in Europe considering they are European Champions. There are so many ex-players involved - and they turnover more than the FA."

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