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Blog home What is the FA doing for grassroots football? Not enough, says local team http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/joepublic/2010/aug/17/fa-grassroots-football-team The club I run is desperately short of funds, but the FA only ever contacts us to send bills, says Eric Allison (5) Tweet this (29) Comments (18) The FA's national game strategy commits it to spending £1m a week on grassroots football - but West Gorton FC has yet to see any of this money. Photograph: Christopher Thomond I have followed football with a passion since I was in short pants. I grew up in Gorton, east Manchester and Roger Byrne, captain of Manchester United and an England regular, lived in the next street but one to us. Sadly Byrne died in the Munich air crash but United is in my DNA. A couple of years back, while walking my dogs around west Gorton, I came across a bunch of young lads playing football on a patch of waste ground. We got chatting and I remarked that some of them looked useful and asked why they didn't form a team? "We need somebody to organise us" one said "what about you?". Initially, I turned them down; I work and the issues I write about encroach into my spare time and I have children, grandchildren and two dogs. But they were persistent and eventually wore me down. I started making enquiries and, in time for the 2008/09 season, West Gorton FC was born. Funding was a problem. Most of my lads are at college or unemployed and their families have limited means. Manchester City Council came to our aid and supported us through the first two seasons. This season, they have had to turn us down. Not surprising, given the cuts being forced on them. A Gorton based, 'Inspiring communities inititive', backed by the council, has come to our aid and given us enough money to get us through at least part the season. Our team, who play in the Tameside Sunday League, is made up of around a score of 17-20 year olds. None of them do drugs, or are problem drinkers, and only one of them has had a skirmish with the law. (A one-off, I am sure. The lad is now set to join the army; just about the only career choice open to kids around here.) Running the club costs £4K a year; a modest price to pay for helping to keep these lads out of trouble in an area where trouble is just around every corner. Compare that sum with the minimum cost of keeping a young person in custody - £100,000 per annum, rising to a quarter of a million each year in some establishments. The lads are football daft. At the end of last season we were playing four games a week. Where are thethe Premier League and the FA in this? The FA say its national game strategy is committed to spending £200m during 2008-10 and is currently contributing nearly £1m a week to grassroots football. The Premier League is, of course, only responsible for staging the competition involving the top 20 clubs in England. Nonetheless, it says that, over the last ten years, it has given over £50m to the Football Foundation, whose remit is to build grassroots football facilities in the UK. I am sure both organisations are telling the truth but the only connection between the Premier League and our club, is that the team cannot afford to attend games. As for the FA, the only correspondence I have with them is when we have to pay our fees, or receive literature relating to its coaching and referees courses, which we have to pay for of course. As for the two Manchester teams, I have approached City for help. I was unashamed in pointing to the historical link between us and them: it started off in west Gorton, in 1880, as St Marks FC. It has yet to decide. And United? My view is that it has, for so long, been so confident of its huge fan base that it has forgotten the community from whence it came. Since our club was formed, younger local kids have asked me to start junior teams. But I don't have the time or the money. This coalition government talks of the "big society" and asks for ideas. Here's one: get onto estates like mine and harness the passion that exists for our national game among these disadvantaged youngsters. • Eric Allison is the Guardian's prisons correspondent FA retains final say on role of Club England • Club England keeps same remit but FA has overall control • Emergency meeting in October will clarify new chairman's role http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/aug/19/fa-club-england Tweet this (14) Press Association guardian.co.uk, Thursday 19 August 2010 18.24 BST Article history Sir Dave Richards and the Club England body he chairs came under scrutiny after England's poor World Cup. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP The Football Association will continue to have ultimate responsibility on major issues concerning the national team after confirmation of the role of Club England was discussed at a board meeting today. Club England was established by the former chief executive Ian Watmore to establish a single division responsible for all issues regarding the national teams, setting objectives to deliver success. The FA's former director of communications Adrian Bevington was appointed managing director, with Sir Dave Richards becoming chairman after Lord Triesman resigned his position at the governing body in May. The handling of Fabio Capello's new contract on the eve of the World Cup and the decision to retain the Italian following the disappointing display in South Africa have increased the attention on the remit of Club England and the position of the FA board in relation to national team matters. While managers continue to report initially to the board of Club England, which overseas all operational issues, it has been made clear the FA board continues to hold the overall responsibility for major decisions, as it does throughout the organisation. Meanwhile, the FA has formalised the process for the search for a new permanent chairman to replace Lord Triesman. At an emergency general meeting in October, it will be recommended that while the position will still be independent, the need for candidates to be independent of any involvement in football for 12 months before taking the post is set to be removed. The process of selecting an executive search organisation has already started and will be ready to implement immediately after the EGM, with a new chairman expected to be in place by the start of next year. FA makes rod for its back by insisting on English coach The FA should learn from English cricket before insisting that Fabio Capello's successor should be home-grown http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2010/aug/17/fa-english-coach (2) Tweet this (6) Comments (136) o Paul Weaver o The Guardian, Tuesday 17 August 2010 o Article history Peter Moores replaced an overseas coach at the helm of the England cricket team. It didn't work out, and he was succeeded by another foreigner. Photograph: Anthony Devlin/PA The marriage between Fabio Capello and English football has suddenly become so dysfunctional that it might have attracted the interest of Strindberg. The man once described as England's best manager since Sir Alf Ramsey has, almost overnight, become the biggest loser since Charlie Brown. The truth, probably, rests somewhere in between. Capello is being lampooned because of a particularly badly run World Cup campaign but even more so because of the aching disappointment and anti-climax experienced by a nation whose hopes had been ridiculously high in the first place. And now the Football Association is revealed as being just as daft as the punters who actually put money on England to win the pot in the summer. The next manager of England, we have been told, will be English. The FA has had a bit of a chinwag and, according to Adrian Bevington, the managing director of Club England, the decision has been taken two years before any appointment will be made. "The view of everyone in the discussion so far is that we should have an English manager moving forward, and my personal wish is that we should have an English manager post-Fabio Capello and post-the Euros," Bevington said. He sounds just as silly as the England and Wales Cricket Board when it decided it would appoint an English coach in 2007. Duncan Fletcher, although outstanding in his technical skills, had perhaps taken the team as far as he could. The man the ECB came up with was Peter Moores. Moores got the job because he had done a decent job at the academy at Loughborough – and he got that job because he had led Sussex to their first championship title in 2003. As any Sussex supporter will tell you, the main reason the county won that title was because, in Mushtaq Ahmed, they had the outstanding wicket-taker in county cricket, plus a formidable run- scorer in Murray Goodwin. Moores, who is now in charge at Lancashire, is a thoroughly decent man, a great organiser and probably a cut above the average county coach. But he was not an international coach and because he had never played for England he would always struggle to have sufficient respect from all of England's players. Moores's great legacy was to appoint Andy Flower, who is proving to be an outstanding international operator at Test, one-day and Twenty20 level, even though he is not conspicuously English. The lesson the FA must take from the ECB is not to decide on the nationality of the coach two years in advance. The best decision, surely, is to appoint the best man available. As there are only six English managers in the Premier League it may be difficult finding an Englishman anyway. As for Capello, the FA would surely have been better advised to post him his P45 – if it could have afforded it – after the humiliating World Cup experience, where his tactics were almost as lamentable as his inability to get the best out of his admittedly limited players. Just what went wrong in South Africa has not been properly explained but despite Capello's sensational honeymoon period he is clearly not the coach we hoped he would be. Life is a little like that for everyone. Julian Barnes, in Talking It Over, once marvellously observed that life was like invading Russia. "A blitz start, massed shakos, plumes dancing like a flustered henhouse; a period of svelte progress recorded in ebullient despatches as the enemy falls back; then the beginning of a long morale-sapping trudge with rations getting shorter and the first snowflakes on your face." Ultimately, says Barnes, "you fall beneath a boy-gunner's grapeshot while crossing some Polish river not even marked on your general's map". Well the World Cup in South Africa probably was marked on Capello's map but he made a botch of it, just as he messed up on David Beckham. Beckham, who should have gone some years ago, rather resembles one of those irritating houseguests who overstays his welcome. You know the sort. He just ... stays. He is so charming about the business of staying that it is difficult to show him the door – Stephen Leacock's advice in this matter revolves around the placement of a horse's head in the bed of the miscreant. Multi-role Sir Dave Richards shows his sensitivity to scrutiny • FA vice-chairman keeps low profile at crucial time • Unease over conflict of interest sidelines Richards http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jul/29/sir-dave-richards-football-association Tweet this (7) Matt Scott The Guardian, Thursday 29 July 2010 Article history Sir Dave Richards is one of the powerbrokers in English football, but he has not been involved in finding a new FA chairman. Photograph: Andy Wong/AP Sir Dave Richards's influence over the direction of the Football Association has seemingly been restrained amid increasing unease that his various interests in the game could cause conflicts. Despite his status as one of the most senior powerbrokers in English football, the FA vice- chairman was not appointed to the nominations committee to find a successor for Lord Triesman, who resigned as FA chairman in May. That decision came after Richards, who is also the Premier League chairman, declined to put himself forward for the committee. Triesman's replacement will be appointed early in 2011 and the responsibility for identifying candidates now rests with four men. Chairing the nominations committee is Roger Burden, the interim chair, and it will feature three FA board members. Either David Sheepshanks or Tony Kleanthous will represent the Football League, Bolton Wanderers' Phil Gartside the Premier League, and the Hampshire FA's chairman John Ward will speak for the national game, alongside Burden. Gartside, Ward and Burden all feature on the FA's remuneration committee and it was felt appropriate that individuals with that experience should have a say. However, it was not a prerequisite – neither Sheepshanks nor Kleanthous feature on the remuneration committee – so this was no obstacle to Richards's involvement in the process. Richards was heavily involved in the recruitment of Triesman, however, and his lack of a significant say in the current process is conspicuous. It suggests he is sensitive to the scrutiny of his many roles and has sought to remove the potential for suspicion by stepping away from the process. Elephants at the Beeb Peter Salmon's decision to delay his permanent relocation from London to Salford Quays, as the head of BBC North, highlights how unpopular the enforced migration of BBC departments, including Five Live and Sport, has become. But more pertinent, perhaps, is the question about why it is happening in the first place. BBC grandees such as Roger Mosey and Mark Byford have been heavily involved in designing the layout of London 2012's main broadcast centre. Their staff would much prefer a switch from one end of the Central Line to the other to schlepping the length of the M6 and M1. So why not move in to the Olympic site? It cannot be done, apparently, due to something about needing big departments to relocate to make the Salford move work. But what do 2012 insiders say will be the biggest white elephant after the Games, and the biggest burden on the taxpayer? The broadcast centre, of course. Distraction for Gardner Plymouth Argyle supporters have long been told they should be reassured that the club can call on the business acumen of their chairman Sir Roy Gardner, despite his not taking a salary for the role. He does, though, charge an interest-bearing loan to the business and he and his family and friends also stand to profit if stadium redevelopment plans come to fruition. However, the demands on his time have suddenly been increased. He is also the chairman of Connaught, a company specialising in repairing and maintaining social housing, which unconfirmed reports suggest is the subject of a Financial Services Authority investigation over a director's alleged insider trading. This means that at a time when Plymouth are dealing with a complex transaction separating Home Park from the football business, the club are likely to see even less of their chairman as he deals with embattled Connaught. Triesman's last act Lord Triesman who resigned his FA chairmanship after making unguarded allegations about bribery in rival bids for the 2018 World Cup, last week received an honorary degree from his alma mater, the University of Essex, "for his contribution to his field". The biography that accompanied his graduation explained: "He was also chairman of the 2018 Football World Cup bid team until May this year and one of his last tasks within this role was to help present the technical bid document to Fifa – football's world governing body." It was one of the last things he did as England 2018's chairman. Fabio Capello warned by FA that it must approve future business deals • Manager given warning after Capello Index furore • England players' individual rankings removed on Tuesday http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jul/21/fabio-capello-fa-business-deals (2) Tweet this (16) Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 21 July 2010 20.53 BST Article history The Capello Index website has finally had its England player ratings removed. Photograph: Lewis Stickley/PA As the embarrassing Capello Index saga rumbled on today, the England manager has been reminded that he must run any future business ventures past the Football Association first in an effort to avoid a repeat. As with other FA employees, it is understood Fabio Capello's contract contains a clause requiring him to obtain prior approval for external business ventures. For whatever reason, however, and with his reputation within the organisation riding high following England's impressive qualifying campaign, it was ignored when the Italian agreed to contribute to the Capello Index venture. Many at the FA were unaware of the imminent launch of the website, while others attempted unsuccessfully to persuade him to postpone the launch until after the World Cup finals. At the launch in May he was described as the co-founder of the player-rating site with the Italian businessman Chicco Merighi, although the England manager claims not to have received any payment for his involvement and details of their agreement remain unclear. But Capello will now be expected to stick strictly to the terms of his contact in the unlikely event that he should wish to embark on any similar venture over the remaining two years of his deal. The website, which rates players according to a complex formula that was developed using Capello's expertise but does not rely on his personal assessments, raised eyebrows not only because of the proximity to the World Cup, but also because it appeared to be out of character. In comparison to some of his predecessors, notably Sven-Goran Eriksson with classical music CDs and computer games, Capello had displayed a reluctance to augment his salary with external endorsements or business ventures. An increasingly frustrated FA today continued to communicate with Capello's Italian advisers, led by his son and lawyer Pierfilippo, as it in turn attempted to get the website's creators to remove the England manager's name and likeness from the site. After much toing and froing, the ratings for England players were finally removed on Tuesday, but the site remains live and its creators appear to have little intention of removing the references to Capello. Since Monday night, visitors to the site have been greeted by a note explaining Capello's role. "The Capello Index cannot, and must not, be summarised as 'The vote given by Capello' to the players, but is the result of a system which is capable of analysing and evaluating the actual performance adding various scientific variables," it said. Sir Alex Ferguson attacks FA over failure to implement winter break • Ferguson says lack of break hurt England's World Cup chances • Manager also blames television demands for players' tiredness http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jul/20/sir-alex-ferguson-fa-winter-break (19) Tweet this (30) Andy Hunter in Philadelphia guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 20 July 2010 23.00 BST Article history Sir Alex Ferguson believes Wayne Rooney will become a 'complete' player despite his disappointing World Cup. Photograph: Kamil Krzaczynski/EPA Sir Alex Ferguson has accused the Football Association of handicapping England at the World Cup through its failure to introduce a winter break to the Premier League season. The Manchester United manager has been a long-time advocate of halting the season in January and believes England's dire performances in South Africa provide overwhelming evidence to support his argument. Among the many reasons offered for Wayne Rooney's lacklustre World Cup was fatigue following the end of United's domestic campaign, when the England striker also suffered an ankle injury in the Champions League quarter-finals. Ferguson insists England's problems are more deep-rooted and stem from the demand on players throughout December and by TV. Whether his proposal will be considered, however, appears unlikely, as the issue is not on the FA's agenda at present and was not mentioned in a wide- ranging statement on improving the national team from the organisation this week. "The FA has to give the country the best possible chance of doing well in the World Cup," said the United manager. "Because of the nature of our game and because of the demands from TV to have a programme every week, the idea of a winter break, which I was first talking about 30 years ago in Scotland and have done since I came down to England, nothing has happened about it. They must realise that, going into the World Cup, they have handicapped their team." Resting players after a gruelling festive period, Ferguson believes, could give England an opportunity to match Germany's consistent success in international competitions. He added: "The English season is exhausting. Most Decembers we play between eight and nine games at the worst time of the year. The pitches are heavier, the weather is worse and then in the second half of the season you'll find a lot of players at all clubs carrying strains, pulls, but because of the importance of the games they keep on playing. "And then when they get to the end of the season and have a major tournament like a World Cup or European Championship they are not 100% fit, they can't be. They need that rest factor which brings the energy back into the system. Germany always take that month-long break in January and they always seem to do better in World Cups than anyone ever expects." Last week Ferguson conceded that Rooney will be haunted by his disappointing World Cup but is adamant that, at club level, the 24-year-old who scored 34 goals last season is on an upwards trajectory that will see him become "the complete footballer". "He had an improvement in terms of his timing and movement in the penalty box and his positioning was improved from the previous season," said the Scot, reflecting on last season. "He got us over 30 goals and if he does that again and adds a little bit to his game then that is what we expect. "The boy has got an incredible armoury of talent and what we have to do is to wait for that maturity. We also do nurture it and try to advise and coach in a fashion which will improve his game. But the most important thing I think he needs now is maturity and, when he gets that, I think you will see the complete footballer." Ferguson pinpointed refereeing decisions in United's two league defeats by Chelsea as a major factor in the club's failure to land a fourth successive title. "I think there were two or three decisions against us, refereeing decisions, that killed us in both games," he claimed. "We only needed one point, if we had drawn one of the games we would have won the league." United warmed up for tomorrow's pre-season friendly against Philadelphia Union by paying tribute to one of the city's most famous fictional sons, Rocky. In a break from the usual pre- season slog, their players recreated Sylvester Stallone's pounding of the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. The United midfielder, Darron Gibson, has left the tour to return home to Ireland following the death of his grandmother. He is expected to rejoin the squad before the tour moves on to Missouri. Fabio Capello and FA ponder legal action as website saga rumbles on • Capello Index fiasco goes into fifth day • Negotiations between parties remain ongoing http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jul/20/fabio-capello-fa-lega-action-website Tweet this (14) Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 20 July 2010 21.54 BST Article history The FA has been assured that Fabio Capello does not want his name associated with the Capello Index website. Photograph: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Images The stand-off between Fabio Capello and his partners in the controversial player rating website that bears his name continued into a fifth day, albeit with a partial climbdown as the marks attributed to England players were finally removed. Football Association executives again spent much of the day on the phone to Capello's Italian advisers, including his son and lawyer Pierfilippo, and continued to insist they and he wanted all references to the England manager removed from the site. The explanatory home page that first appeared on Monday, distancing Capello from the marks themselves and explaining his involvement, remained visible all day. And although the largely dismal ratings for England players finally disappeared today, the site remained. Capello had claimed the site went live over the weekend without his knowledge and, according to Pierfilippo, demanded it be taken down. The FA said it had been assured Capello did not want his name or likeness to be associated with it in any way. But as negotiations continued between the England manager's advisers and Chicco Merighi, the Italian businessman and associate of Capello's who is behind the website, an increasingly frustrated FA could only watch and hope the embarrassing impasse would soon be broken. It has no direct leverage over the website's creators because it does not have any rights relating to Capello's name or image. Legal action by Capello's camp is a possibility but the terms of the contract between him and the website's creators are unclear. He claims not to have been paid for it. "The Capello Index cannot, and must not, be summarised as the vote given by Capello to the players, but is the result of a system which is capable of analysing and evaluating the actual performance adding various scientific variables," said the statement by Football Cap Index on the website. "As far as the evaluation of the performance of the players in the South African World Cup is concerned, we would like to clarify that Fabio Capello did not contribute in the formulation of the results now available online. They were obtained thanks to our unique scientific system that is, and will remain, transparent." Matteo Campodonico, chief executive of WY Media, the company that provided the statistics for the site, referred all inquiries to Merighi, who was unavailable for comment. Capello Index risks clash with Premier League as fiasco escalates • Capello Index launch day descends into farce • England manager keen to distance himself from venture http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jul/19/capello-index-fabio-premier-league Tweet this (26) Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk, Monday 19 July 2010 23.25 BST Article history Fabio Capello has been anxious to distance himself from the Capello Index website. Photograph: Sean Dempsey/PA Fabio Capello's controversial online ratings venture could come into conflict with the Premier League, it emerged tonight, after a farcical day during which the England manager's marks for his players remained on the website despite repeated assurances that they would be removed. The Capello Index website features the Premier League logo without permission and promises to offer ratings and statistics from the competition this season. But it is understood the site does not have the requisite licences and would be in breach of copyright if it went ahead. Every website that uses the Premier League's fixtures and squad lists needs to have a commercial deal with Football DataCo, its joint venture with the Football League and Scottish Premier League, and the Capello Index could therefore face a legal challenge, although the Italian was said to be endeavouring to sever his association with the site. "Frustrated" Football Association executives were in constant touch with Capello's advisors, who in turn put pressure on the website's owners to remove the Italian's name, likeness and endorsement. Earlier today, it appeared that they had succeeded in getting it removed. But it was offline for an hour at most before reappearing permanently at 10.15am, when it was still possible to learn that David James scored 57.14 or Ledley King 57.5 for their most recent matches according to the complex formula employed by the site, which is riddled with factual errors. Capello last week assured FA executives that he would no longer have any association with the website, shelved shortly after its launch in May. Even before a display at the World Cup that the FA today conceded was "massively disappointing", the commercial venture was considered an own goal by the £6m-a-year England manager. Now, a PR disaster is spiralling into farce. Despite Capello's assurances, the website nevertheless went live – apparently without his approval or that of his son and lawyer Pierfilippo – over the weekend. And although the FA first demanded it be removed on Saturday, blaming "technical issues" when it was not, it remained available tonight. The website today featured a strident statement defending its rating procedure. "As far as the evaluation of the performance of the players in the South African World Cup is concerned, we would like to clarify that Fabio Capello did not contribute in the formulation of the results now available online. They were obtained thanks to our unique scientific system that is, and will remain, transparent." The project was unveiled at the London Stock Exchange a day before Capello announced his provisional 30-man squad. Almost immediately, it came under fire for appearing to undermine the sanctity of the dressing room despite assurances from Capello, the site and the FA that he would not personally have a hand in rating the players. Following England's World Cup debacle, the site became part of a wider charge sheet that suggested Capello had lost the sure-footedness that guided the team to qualification, amid questions about his decision to renege on an earlier promise not to pick injured players, to take those in form to South Africa and his aloof style. In a rambling explanation running to more than 6,000 words, the website claims: "The main goal of the project is to make explicit the technical-scientific conditions necessary in order to develop and apply a footballer's performance evaluation index that is absolutely impartial and consistent." Matteo Campodonico of Italian company WY Group, which provided the statistical modelling for the project and works closely with several Serie A clubs, said today that its future was a matter for Chicco Merighi, the Italian businessman listed as the site's co-founder alongside Capello in the launch literature. Capello claims not to have received any money from the scheme. Meanwhile, the Club England managing director, Adrian Bevington, has conceded that the crowd for England's friendly against Hungary next month was likely to be well down on the average in the wake of a disappointing World Cup. "Like the whole country everyone involved with the team and at the FA has been massively disappointed by the World Cup performance. We fully understand the fans and the wider public anger and frustration," Bevington said. "We accept it is going to take time to rebuild the trust with the fans. It may be that the crowd for the Hungary is low in comparison with other Wembley crowds. That's understandable." But he insisted that the England players who underperformed in South Africa "care passionately" and outlined plans to overhaul the way the game is coached. "The players do care and carry the pain afterwards. This is shown in different ways, but it is there among them all. We all carry the burden of letting the nation down." Fabio Capello gives FA pledge to help develop England coaching talent • Capello to appoint at least one more homegrown coach • Emile Heskey quits international football at 32 http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jul/15/fabio-capello-fa-emile-heskey (5) Tweet this (13) Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk, Thursday 15 July 2010 23.07 BST Article history Emile Heskey shakes hands with Fabio Capello as he is substituted in England's World Cup match against Algeria. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images The Football Association today debated its response to England's disastrous World Cup campaign, promising to learn the lessons of other more successful nations and securing a pledge from Fabio Capello to bring at least one more young homegrown coach on to his staff. The Italian today offered reassurances over the future of his backroom staff, including Stuart Pearce and Ray Clemence, and promised to work with Sir Trevor Brooking, the director of football development, to do more to encourage a new generation of English coaches on his staff. Part of Capello's brief was supposed to be to help develop the next generation of English coaches, but there has been little evidence of this. The renewed determination within the FA to ensure that happens is likely to lead to another relatively young English coach being appointed alongside Pearce. Alan Shearer is one name that has already been talked about. There had been speculation that the roles of Pearce, the England Under-21 manager and assistant to Capello, and the goalkeeping coach Clemence could be under threat as the Italian looked to reorganise in the wake of the summer debacle. But it is understood that, as Capello returned to work today following a post-World Cup break, he strongly reiterated his support for both men in a meeting with the Club England board – the chairman, Sir Dave Richards, the managing director, Adrian Bevington, Brooking and the FA general secretary, Alex Horne. In response to critics calling urgently on the FA to overhaul its structure and demonstrate an ability to overhaul the supply line of young talent, the board today asked Horne and Brooking to come up with new recommendations on the development of young international players. They will be designed to complement existing Premier League proposals being worked up by its head of youth, Ged Roddy. The board, which discussed the failings of England's World Cup campaign at length, also ordered a wide-ranging performance review looking into the lessons to be learned from other nations such as Germany and Spain, as well as other sports. The debate over England's footballing future has intensified in the wake of the desperately disappointing showing in South Africa, with critics pointing to the fact that Capello's was the oldest squad in the tournament and lamenting the lack of obvious younger replacements. One of those stalwarts, the Aston Villa striker Emile Heskey, announced today that he is retiring from international football at the age of 32. Capello stood by Heskey, who scored seven goals in 62 games for England, throughout qualifying in the belief he brought the best out of Wayne Rooney but dropped him from the starting line up during the World Cup when that was no longer the case. Heskey, who made his debut in 1999, said: "I have enjoyed every moment of my England career and worn the shirt with pride every time I have been fortunate enough to have been selected." Under pressure to show progress on overhauling their governance structures from the government and supporters' groups, the board discussed a timetable for the appointment of a new permanent chairman. The position was filled on a temporary basis by the understated Roger Burden after the FA was again plunged into disarray by the untimely departure of Lord Triesman. Mindful of the need for continuity throughout the closing stages of England's World Cup bid there will not now be a permanent chairman appointed until next year, with Burden confirmed in the role until after the 11 December vote. Controversially, the board also recommended that the clause introduced in the wake of the Lord Burns review in 2005 that the FA's chairman should not have worked in the game for 12 months should be reviewed or removed. The board argues that the new chairman should have football experience and that the clause should not stand in the way of getting the right person. But critics argue it increases the chances of the next incumbent being seen as beholden to either the professional or the amateur game. The change will have to be ratified at a special general meeting of the FA Council in October. The council gathers for a scheduled meeting tomorrow The FA has been warned by the government that it still expects progress to be made on reform, despite the fact that it cannot intervene directly for fear of falling foul of Fifa's rules on political interference during the World Cup bid. FA warned not to brush reform under the table during World Cup bid • Government steps in as fears grow that change will be ignored • FA board meets to discuss England's World Cup shambles http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jul/15/fa-world-cup-2018-bid (1) Tweet this (29) Owen Gibson The Guardian, Thursday 15 July 2010 Article history England's disastrous World Cup campaign will dominate the FA board meeting, but the association has been told not to overlook other pressing matters. Photograph: Tom Jenkins The government has warned the Football Association not to use the interregnum provided by England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup as an excuse to ignore the clamour for comprehensive reform of its structure and role. As the FA's main board meets today to discuss England's disastrous World Cup campaign and consider pressing financial issues, fears within government and fans' groups that it will fail to grapple with governance issues have returned with increasing urgency. The debate over the FA's role and regulatory structure reached fever pitch as it lost both chief executive and chairman in the space of three months and have been highlighted again by the period of soul searching that followed the poor showing in South Africa. The government is reluctant to intervene during the 2018 World Cup bidding process, aware that Fifa's antipathy to political interference could harm England's chances. But the sports and Olympics minister, Hugh Robertson, told the Guardian that should not be interpreted as a signal he is dropping his call for the FA to fundamentally reform. "The government is absolutely committed to the reform agenda in football. It wants football to use the period of the bid to reform itself, in line with what the public and public life expects," he said. There is a widespread feeling that the FA board, which has dragged its feet on adopting even the modest regulatory reforms recommended by Lord Burns in a 2005 review that said it should add at least two independent non-executive directors and make the FA Council more representative, has reverted to type. The power vacuum that emerged in the wake of the resignation of the chief executive, Ian Watmore, and the enforced departure of Lord Triesman has been filled, it appears, by a familiar combination of expedient back-room deals. The divisive figure of the Premier League chairman, Sir Dave Richards, emerged as chairman of Club England, which was rushed into being ahead of the World Cup following Triesman's resignation. He also sits on the FA board. Today, the board are likely to discuss whether to reverse one of the few reforms introduced as a result of Burns – the requirement for the chairman to have been free of ties to football for 12 months. To remove the clause, it would have to be voted on by the FA Council, a process liable to take three months. Originally introduced to ensure independence, there is an argument that it is overly restrictive if it prevents the best candidate being appointed. But the fear must be that some on the board want it removed to allow a more supine figure to take over. There is widespread agreement that the new chairman should have experience and clout within the football world as well as life outside the bubble. But while the government and other outsiders would like to see someone strong enough to stand up to football's vested interests where required, others call for a "football man" who won't rock the boat. The reasons for the slow progress on regulatory reform are varied and well rehearsed. The FA's board structure, equally split between the professional and the national game, promotes stasis and drift because one cohort or the other will tend to block progress. So while the Premier League was in favour of the Burns reforms, it was blocked by national game representatives who feared losing influence. Conversely, on any issue where the interests or commercial clout of the professional game is threatened, it tends to form a blocking vote. Any substantial regulatory change has to be voted through by the unwieldy Council, putting another brake on reform. Successive FA administrations have stumbled from crisis to crisis, with the construction and running of Wembley looming large, so overriding governance issues are habitually pushed to the bottom of the agenda. Alex Horne, the recently appointed general secretary, is understood to be forging a good working relationship with the Premier League's Richard Scudamore and the Football League's Greg Clarke. But then the same was said of Watmore before he quit in frustration at a structure he regarded as unfit for purpose. There is unlikely to be a new permanent chairman until the autumn, at the earliest, and the most likely outcome remains that Roger Burden will remain as acting chairman until the end of the year. Meanwhile, there is a view that the 2018 bid is being undermined by the lack of a senior FA presence on the global stage. For all his enemies at home, Lord Triesman was closely aligned with the Uefa president, Michel Platini, and Burden's absence for most of England's games in South Africa did not go unnoticed. But there is also a feeling that the danger of rushing to appoint a chairman, particularly one who may be new to international football politics, in October or November when the race is entering the closing stages would be more damaging still. The lack of a heavyweight international presence is likely to be solved in the short term by asking Manchester United's chief executive, David Gill, one of three Premier League representatives on the FA board and well thought of abroad, to play a more prominent international role. Any wider reform of the FA is likely to have to wait until the new chairman is in place. Much hangs on who that is and the extent to which they are able to balance navigating the shark- infested waters of domestic and international football politics with a clear-eyed appreciation of the need for reform. Crucially, they will need to find a way of persuading the turkeys on the main board, the Council and the committees to vote for Christmas. They must also answer the overriding question: what is the FA for? The alternative is endlessly damaging drift. Facebook denies England team sponsorship talks with FA • Social networking site rubbishes reports of FA talks • Facebook says: 'It is not true. It's bizarre' http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jul/06/facebook-denies-england-football-sponsors (23) Tweet this (53) Press Association guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 6 July 2010 14.39 BST Article history Facebook denied reports of talks with the FA. Photograph: Leon Neal/AFP Facebook has denied reports that it is in advanced talks with the Football Association about becoming the new major sponsor of the England team. The social networking website was reportedly one of four companies pitching for the contract, as English football's governing body hopes to replace its £20m deal with Nationwide. The building society is set to discontinue its backing at the end of this month after withdrawing an offer tabled to the FA before the World Cup. Telecommunication giants 02 and Orange, along with banking group Santander, were named as the others on the shortlist, but Facebook has categorically denied that it is in talks with the FA and labelled the speculation as "bizarre". In a statement released to The Sport Briefing, it said: "Facebook is not in talks with the England football team regarding sponsorship." A spokesman added: "I don't know where it has come from but it is not true. It's bizarre. We obviously work with lots of different brands and the FA have used the Facebook platform and the England team have a page. "We've obviously been talking to them about those sorts of things, just like any other brand." Facebook is one of several blue-chip companies that have moved to end the speculation linking it with becoming new England team sponsor. FA ready for battle with Premier League clubs over release of young players • Disagreement about squad for youth tournament • Sir Trevor Brooking says England must take best team http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jul/04/fa-premier-league-players (4) Tweet this (13) Dominic Fifield in Cape Town and Jill Treanor guardian.co.uk, Sunday 4 July 2010 23.01 BST Article history Sir Trevor Brooking is determined that England take their strongest possible squad to the European Under-19 Championship. Photograph: Phil Cole/Getty Images A row is threatening to erupt between the Football Association and leading Premier League clubs with England set to be denied up to five key players for the forthcoming European Under-19 Championship. The senior side's premature elimination from the World Cup finals has drawn the focus on to the development of young talent but the FA is concerned that a number of top-flight clubs will withdraw players selected for the finals in France and, as a result, prevent them gaining valuable tournament experience. The Under-19s event starts next week with the national coach, Noel Blake, hoping to include the likes of Aston Villa's Nathan Delfouneso, the Blackburn Rovers centre-half Phil Jones and potentially up to four youngsters from Tottenham Hotspur in the squad to be announced this week. Sir Dave Richards, the chairman of Club England, had written to all the clubs involved asking them to prioritise the release of players before the official start to the new domestic campaign. Yet Blackburn have indicated they want Jones, who made 12 first-team appearances for the Ewood Park club last term, to participate in their pre-season tours of Austria and Australia. Tottenham, too, have written back to the FA querying the release of Steven Caulker, Andros Townsend, Ryan Mason and Dean Parrett for the championship, given that it comes so early into their pre-season programme. That has prompted Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA's director of football development, and Blake to express fears that England's chances at the finals will be hampered and the players denied a rare opportunity to play on such a stage. "We have a European Championship which will be a fantastic experience," said Brooking. "The Premier and Football League clubs said they would support us so clubs would release them, and yet now there are a few whose clubs want to take them on pre-season trips. "We have five lads we might have issues with. They will never get that tournament experience against quality opposition otherwise. Phil Jones, the Blackburn lad and a first-team player, who is outstanding, will be a key player if we are going to do any good in that tournament. We have Nathan Delfouneso, a key player, and we want him released by Aston Villa." There were similar problems last summer, with Spurs' Danny Rose and Victor Moses, who was then at Crystal Palace, withdrawn by their club sides. The England party are due to meet on 12 July and will travel to Normandy three days later for group games against Austria, Holland and France. The other countries participating in the finals are Spain, Portugal, Italy and Croatia. "With all the other countries, there won't even be an issue," said Brooking. "They will be released." A party of 20 players took part in a three-day Under-19s training camp ahead of the finals, with Arsenal, Manchester United, Fuham, Chelsea, West Ham United, Newcastle United and Sunderland the other Premier League clubs with players who are involved. Spurs intend to speak to the FA this week to decide what is in their players' interests, with the other top-flight clubs expected to do likewise. Meanwhile, Nationwide will announce this week that it has opted against renewing its £20m sponsorship deal of the England team, leaving the FA to continue negotiations with other interested parties with their negotiating position somewhat weakened. The building society had backed the England set-up since 1999 but will not seek to extend the package beyond the end of this month. A Nationwide spokesman said tonight: "We've had 11 seasons and it has helped raise our profile with new and existing customers. The current sponsorship deal comes to an end at the end of July and is unlikely to be renewed." Needed for England to succeed: skill, coaches and a willingness to change Sir Trevor Brooking has a plan but the FA's problems and the Premier League's dominance are major obstacles http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jul/03/trevor-brooking-fa-plan (17) Tweet this (30) o Owen Gibson o guardian.co.uk, Saturday 3 July 2010 23.38 BST o Article history Trevor Brooking (right) believes there is no real talent coming through for Fabio Capello to recruit to the England side. Photograph: Tom Jenkins for the Guardian If you thought England's ignominious exit from the World Cup was bad, the FA's director of football development has news for you: things can only get worse. As the nation concentrated on whether Fabio Capello's team could squeeze past Slovenia, Sir Trevor Brooking was issuing a dire warning about the likely talent gap to come in 2014. "I don't think there are the obvious quality ones coming through who can replicate what we have, unless we can fast-track one or two of the younger ones and that's asking a lot," he said. Brooking and others had long ago identified the problem and, shortly before the World Cup, finished work on the blueprint he hopes will be part of the solution. "I am acutely aware there are no quick fixes and easy answers, that we must focus on the long- term future of our game. The key is that we must have more and better skilled coaches with more access to kids at an earlier age," he said. The Future Game document, distributed initially to academy directors at professional clubs, is designed to provide a template for the revolution in the way football is coached. Over the past 16 years, English representative teams have reached five finals and won one. That record compares unfavourably with Spain (20), Italy (14) and France (11). A decade ago, when Germany were going through a barren spell at youth level and suffered the indignity, along with England, of being turfed out of Euro 2000 at the group stage, the German FA sat down with their colleagues at the Bundesliga and sanctioned a €500m investment in a wholesale restructuring of their youth development system, starting in 2002. The result? "From the 23-man Germany squad in South Africa, 19 players came from the academies of Bundesliga clubs and four from Bundesliga 2," Christian Seifert, the Bundesliga chief executive, said. "And it is the youngest team ever with an average 24.7 years. More than 5,000 players [under-12s and upwards] are always going through our training system at any one point." Germany won the European Championship at under-17, under-19 and under-21 level, all within the space of two years. And their fast, fluid young team easily dumped the oldest squad in the competition out of the World Cup. It is hoped that the Future Game document and the belated opening of the National Football Centre in Burton-on-Trent, seen by Brooking as the culmination of the first phase of a tenure at the FA that has been bogged down in depressing turf wars, will in time come to be seen as a new dawn similar to that in Germany. But having a plan is different to being able to act upon it. There are real fears that English football's dysfunctional governance structure and warped funding priorities will leave it unable to translate words into action. The Premier League, with all the money and the power, have long resisted attempts by the FA to get involved with how the clubs coach young players in their academies. Brooking's latest approach is to deliver the coaching document in a spirit of co- operation. Ged Roddy, director of youth at the Premier League, is said to be working positively with Brooking. More than £30m a year is invested annually by Premier League clubs in academies (in Germany last year it was €80m). "The biggest hurdle we have to overcome is access opportunities for players in first-team football. Hopefully, the introduction of the new home-grown players rule is a step in the right direction," said Huw Jennings, the former youth development manager at the Premier League who now runs Fulham's academy. The major bottleneck is still between the ages of 18 and 21, and it seems unlikely the new Premier League rule, requiring clubs to have at least eight players developed in this country, will be enough to rebalance the situation. Last season, 40% of Premier League players were English. "It shouldn't be about tokenism or cheap labour. It should be about opportunities for talented players to have a chance to play. Managers have wanted an imported international player not only as the first choice but the second choice," Jennings said. Nor are there nearly enough top-level coaches. Statistics unearthed by the Guardian before the World Cup have taken on added significance since. England has 2,679 coaches holding Uefa's A, B and Pro licences: Spain has 23,995, Italy 29,420 and Germany 34,970. The FA say the numbers taking A, B and Pro qualifications annually are now on a par with other leading European countries. In Spain and Holland, the clubs with the best academies are able to attract the best talent, whereas in England there are rules to prevent recruitment of players living far away. Germany has a classification system, something Jennings would like to see implemented across the professional game – an "Ofsted for football". The widely respected Roddy, formerly director of sport at Bath University, has spent the past year or so examining best practice in other sports and disciplines, as well as touring the nation's academies. He is believed to have come to a similar conclusion to Jennings, and the Premier League are looking into grading academies. That would enable the smaller clubs with good reputations for their academy to attract players who might otherwise gravitate to bigger clubs. In terms of what they teach, many of the more enlightened academy directors long ago took on board the arguments contained within The Future Game. The emphasis is on skill and small- sided games, rather than physical strength and rigid tactics. In 2007, the chairman of the Rugby Football League and Sport England, Richard Lewis, was commissioned to deliver a report on how to break the logjam, but progress has been too slow for many. "It's a source of great frustration to me that three years after the Lewis review we haven't managed to implement the level of change we should have done," Jennings said. "Youth development has been a victim of unnecessary politicking." Jennings would like to see a separate body created for youth development. Others in the professional game would like to see a technical director appointed to work alongside Brooking. The German experience is instructive. There is a much more balanced relationship between professional league and national governing body, and more unity of purpose. Investing hundreds of millions of pounds, as Germany did, is unthinkable for the FA, who are still short of cash because of the collapse of Setanta, the loans taken out to build Wembley, and other problems. It is an enduring irony that in building the £757m national stadium, the FA have damaged their ability to produce a national team capable of filling it. Even with the FA's role limited to "coaching the coaches", and setting an overall direction of travel, there are fears that they simply do not have the funding or the clout to deliver. The England and Wales Cricket Board rightly attracted scrutiny over their strategy to flow Sky's millions into grassroots cricket but can now point to evidence that their 2005 Building Partnerships blueprint is working. "We made a commitment in 2005 to invest 20% of our total income in grassroots sport. We have grown participation by 101% in the last three years, making the game much more vibrant for the future," their chief executive, David Collier, said. "It's very much a medium- to long-term plan and we're just starting to see the fruits of that now. The important thing for us is that it gave certainty to all areas of the game." Jennings, and others, believe Premier League clubs should be mandated to spend a minimum amount on youth schemes. In France, clubs spend up to a quarter of their turnover on youth development. And while the way the game is being coached at elite level has changed for the better, every weekend at parks up and down the country there is evidence that there is much work to be done. With the FA relying largely on Tesco to bankroll their grassroots coaching programme, some wonder how we ended up in a situation where such a key part of the FA's remit is reliant on a sponsor. Nor is it just about money. "When we went from 10th in the Olympic medal table to fourth in Beijing, everyone thought it was because we gave the sports more money," Sue Campbell, the chair of UK Sport and the Youth Sport Trust, said. "But it wasn't really, it was to do with how we applied the money and, more importantly, our performance strategy. A huge part of that is coaching. And you need a performance director separate from your coach. Football gets those two confused." Optimists say that the homegrown players rule, Uefa's financial fair play initiative, a more enlightened attitude from clubs, less money for overseas signings, a better working relationship with the FA and more focus from the Premier League should start to make an impact. "There is a plan. We need to be patient and work to that plan and improve it. It won't necessarily bear fruit tomorrow, but in years to come its very much our intention that it will," Brooking told the Observer. Others feel that without a complete "year zero" rethink of the structure and governance of youth development, combined with a huge injection of funding that is unlikely to materialise given the constraints on the FA, we are doomed to keep repeating this debate every four years. World Cup 2010: Why hard-up FA needed to strike gold in South Africa The Football Association is facing a worrying financial future which has been exacerbated by England's World Cup failure http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jun/28/world-cup-fa-england-germany (1) Tweet this (21) o Owen Gibson in Bloemfontein o guardian.co.uk, Monday 28 June 2010 22.30 BST o Article history An England fan with a papier-mâché World Cup sums up a campaign in South Africa that could damage the FA's finances. Photograph: Clive Rose/Getty Images The humiliating blow inflicted by Germany at the Free State Stadium did not just wound England's pride. It will also hit the bottom line of the already cash-strapped Football Association. The national team is the engine that powers the FA's finances – filling Wembley, acting as the lure for commercial partners and giving it access to the marquee names that net sponsorship deals. Since the collapse of Setanta the FA's finances have been under unprecedented strain and, while steps have been taken to relieve the impact of Sunday's defeat, it will have a noticeable effect on the association's commercial activities. • Follow the Guardian's World Cup team on Twitter • Sign up to play our daily Fantasy Football game • Stats centre: Get the lowdown on every player • The latest team-by-team news, features and more 1 Sponsorship deals All the FA's existing deals run out after this World Cup, under a four-year cycle, established by the former commercial director Jonathan Hill, that is designed to maximise the FA's return by selling sponsorship in tiers. Hill's acting replacement, Stuart Turner, faces the tricky task of renegotiating the flagship England sponsorship deal with Nationwide against a backdrop of failure on the pitch and uncertainty about the future. The building society, which has a long-running association with England, still has a £20m offer on the table but it has been unimpressed with the FA's attempts to find an alternative sponsor willing to pay more. The sports agency IMG was engaged to do so and the FA was believed to be confident that there was enough interest to seal a deal in excess of that which Nationwide is prepared to offer. Whether that will change after England's second-round defeat in South Africa remains to be seen. Sponsorship experts said the FA would have to offer evidence of change and renewal in the England management and playing squad in order to inspire hope for the future. Deals with Carlsberg, Umbro, Tesco and Mars were renewed, sensibly, before the World Cup but there is one key "supporter" slot remaining to be filled, after National Express downgraded its relationship to "supplier" status. 2 Wembley Perhaps the most immediate impact of the World Cup failure will be on the precarious finances of the Wembley Stadium subsidiary. The FA has to pay £20m annually on loans that were taken out to pay for the £757m national stadium until at least 2014. That, however, depends on Wembley's management continuing to fill the stadium for a packed programme of concerts and football matches. Even at full capacity Wembley lost £23m in 2008 after depreciation, interest payments and tax were taken into account. Despite refinancing its loans, the operating company faces several years of onerous interest payments. August's friendly against Hungary will provide the first litmus test of whether the public's love affair with England has withered. Much after that will depend on how the 2012 European Championship qualifying campaign begins. Wembley earns around two thirds of its income – £59m a year – from its VIP Club Wembley seats and executive boxes. Any reduction in income from these deals, many signed with corporate partners before the recession hit, would seriously affect the business plan. 3 Broadcasting deals ITV's contract to show England matches, for which it paid £275m in 2007, in a deal that included the FA Cup, is up for renewal in 2012. The FA plans to begin marketing the rights – it is keen to see matches mostly on terrestrial television – at the beginning of next year. ITV has already written down the value of its rights by £50m, thanks to the recession, which is effectively an admission that it overpaid. The BBC is under political pressure not to overpay for sports rights. Therefore few analysts expect the FA to match the total it achieved last time. On the other hand, live football is becoming ever more important to broadcasters – as illustrated by huge audience figures for England games at this World Cup, despite the disappointing performances. As with the FA's commercial contracts, much will depend on the start – and in particular the mood – of the 2012 qualifying campaign. 4 Contracts Sir Dave Richards, the Club England chairman who – extraordinarily to some, given his part in the boardroom dramas of the past 12 months – now holds the future of Fabio Capello in his hands, will have to weigh up the fiscal as well as the footballing consequences of whatever decision he comes to over the coach. After a break clause was removed from Capello's contract in the run-up to the World Cup, following interest from Internazionale, sacking the Italian and his staff would cost £12m. If he goes – and he will not resign – a negotiated settlement will be likely. But on top of the FA having to pay out Capello's contract, his replacement would expect around £3m a year. Interestingly the commercial deals that England players have with the FA through 1966, the company run on their behalf by David Beckham's former adviser Terry Byrne, are also up for renewal. 5 2018 World Cup bid Ironically, while England's campaign on the pitch spluttered and stalled before falling apart, the 2018 bid team had an effective World Cup. Their lobbying at the Fifa Congress that preceded the tournament was widely praised, even by rival bidders. While Prince William, Prince Harry, David Beckham and Boris Johnson banged the drum in public, others including David Dein and Geoff Thompson worked their contacts behind closed doors. England's poor performance is unlikely to have a direct impact on the bid. But the FA, having to fund a World Cup bid to the tune of £10m at a time when its finances are under pressure, could have done with the boost to its bank account that a successful run would have provided. English football malaise goes deeper than just one poor performance Criticism of Fabio Capello and 'golden generation' masks deeper financial and existential crisis at the FA http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jun/27/england-football-world-cup-fa (156) Tweet this (134) Owen Gibson in Bloemfontein guardian.co.uk, Sunday 27 June 2010 22.58 BST Article history End of a generation ... England's players during their second-round match with Germany. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters England fans looking for crumbs of comfort beyond the current tarnished "golden generation" in the ill-starred World Cup face a damning verdict from Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA's director of football development. "There is an immediate void in the standard of the team. World Cup 2014 will be difficult for England," he said. "I don't think there are the obvious quality [players] coming through who can replicate what we have currently, unless we can fasttrack one or two of the younger ones – and that's asking a lot." It was an admission that the malaise in English football goes deeper than a contentious decision here and a poor performance there. While England sent their oldest squad in history to the World Cup, Germany sent their youngest since 1934. While there will inevitably be calls for the head of Fabio Capello, now tied to the FA on a watertight £6m-a-year contract until 2012, many others will feel more fundamental change is required. Prior to this tournament, there were only 2,769 English coaches holding Uefa's top qualifications. Spain has produced 23,995, Italy 29,420, Germany 34,970 and France 17,588. And perhaps the dysfunction and discord within the England camp should not have come as a surprise at the end of a season when those who run the game have been mired in more acrimony than ever. As angry and disconsolate England fans filed out of the Free State Stadium, they railed not so much at the performance as at the fact that not one of the players went over to clap them for spending thousands of pounds and flying thousands of miles to support them. To them, it was further proof of the chasm between them and those who wear the shirts they pay handsomely for replica versions of. Even Wayne Rooney, seen as the last link between fan and player, criticised them in Cape Town and today refused to stop and speak to the media after another frustrating display. The FA's loss of control over the game from top to bottom goes back to 1992, when it ceded control of the top flight to the most powerful clubs. Since then, the Premier League has run the game in the interests of those 20 clubs. Attendances and TV revenues have boomed, attracting investors from around the world – which in turn has brought its own issues – but done little for the national team. The idea was sold to the FA on the basis that it would benefit the national team, because the number of teams would be reduced to 18 and fixture congestion would be eased. It never happened. Rooney himself said just last week that he would welcome a winter break, as in Germany, but it is unlikely to happen. Premier League executives can't be blamed for protecting their brand in the most successful way they know. But the FA's German counterpart, the DFB, has a far more balanced relationship with the Bundesliga and is able to weigh what is best for the league against what is best for the game as a whole. That has led to a very different ownership model, often eyed enviously by those who feel alienated by the excesses of the Premier League era, and a higher percentage of homegrown players plying their trade in their domestic league. In the Premier League, that figure is just 37%. Meanwhile, the National Football Centre in Burton stayed on the drawing board for a decade, although there are renewed hopes that it will finally be built. Of late, the Premier League has put more emphasis on youth development and introduced rules forcing clubs to include more players developed in this country in their matchday squads. Yet the rules don't go as far as those in place in Germany for some time. But the FA, which recently lost a chairman and a chief executive in the space of three months, must also look internally. The organisation is facing financial and existential crisis. The question of just what it is for will return at increased volume. When it was shaving costs to the bone elsewhere after the collapse of broadcast partner Setanta, the Rolls Royce England operation was untouched. Capello's Italian coaches, the purposebuilt Royal Bafokeng training complex, the pre-tournament altitude training camp, all remained to give the players the best chance of success. It was a commercial as well as a football decision – a successful, popular England side is vital to keeping the FA's head above water. All its four-year sponsorship deals run out after this World Cup and a good performance would have given them leverage. Then there is Wembley. The millstone of the £757m cost of building the national stadium continues to weigh heavily. Until at least 2014 the FA must subsidise the loan repayments to the tune of £20m every year. In August, England will play Hungary in a friendly that was to have been a heroic homecoming. There may be empty seats, and the leases on the Club Wembley corporate seats will shortly be up for renewal. TV deals are also due for renewal in 2012. There is also the possible effect on the FA's upcoming battle to justify its existence. The new sports minister, Hugh Robertson, has given football until autumn to get its house in order before examining whether a new structure should be imposed. The FA's new general secretary, Alex Horne, had hoped to return to South Africa for the quarter finals but now will be at home grappling with an overflowing intray. How the FA are the first real World Cup winners in 2010 In broadcasting behind-the-scenes footage of the England camp the FA have controlled output and found a valuable revenue stream http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/jun/21/fa-world-cup-winners-2008 (2) Tweet this (37) Comments (3) Owen Gibson in Cape Town The Guardian, Monday 21 June 2010 Article history Fabio Capello was at Real Madrid when the club launched its own TV channel. Photograph: Tom Jenkins England's World Cup campaign may be proceeding according to a familiar narrative on the pitch – swinging between wild optimism and crushing disappointment amid huge media hype – but off it a quiet revolution is taking place. Tim Lovejoy, the chirpy former Soccer AM presenter who divides opinion, helped change football coverage with his chummy sofa-based show. Now he is threatening to do the same again, reporting from inside the England camp for the FA's own online broadcaster – the only one, it boasts, "with official 24-7 access to Fabio Capello's team". Lovejoy is fronting exclusive interviews, behind-the-scenes footage and videos from all England's training sessions and press conferences. Despite the saturation coverage elsewhere, the online broadcaster seems to be doing well, with more than 1m views in the last week. It has garnered more than 500,000 views through the FA's website since the beginning of May and 3.5m views through its YouTube channel. "The idea is to take this fun and engaging content to where the users are," says Stuart Turner, the FA's head of broadcast and acting commercial director. But the rise of FA TV also raises all sorts of questions. The sort of content produced by Lovejoy is lighthearted and less than probing. Its success suggests that web viewers are prepared to forego independent coverage for inside access, and gives the FA a potentially valuable revenue stream because it can sell the content to overseas broadcasters. Capello and his right-hand man Franco Baldini have thrown their weight behind the initiative. Capello was at Real Madrid when the club launched its own TV channel, and Baldini saw the same thing happen at Roma. But will the FA and other rights holders be able to balance the desire to grow an inhouse operation with serving the needs of the rest of the media? The FA has a love/hate relationship with the media. During a World Cup, newspapers and broadcasters hungry for every cough and spit from the England camp need it more than it needs them. But when it is trying to re-establish the popularity of the FA Cup next season, or win the bid to host the 2018 World Cup, it will need their support. "We absolutely must not become the bottleneck. We will never say that no one else gets anything any more and become the central distribution point. Newspapers and broadcast partners are as important to us as anyone else," says Turner. "But you would never have the written press in the team hotel. So we can bring people what the mood in the camp is like and what it's like inside the hotel. You can bring a sense of what the players are like in a more relaxed environment away from a press conference. The World Cup should be about trying to win games, but it should be fun as well." Uefa and Fifa have invested hugely in their inhouse media operations in recent years, even as they have continued to rake in ever greater sums from selling media rights to broadcasters. Fifa.com, which employs a small army of journalists to generate exclusive content, had more visitors (53m) in the first two weeks of June than during the entire 2006 World Cup (48m). The FA's strategy is partly aimed at maintaining competition in the rights market. "At some point in the future, who knows, if broadcast fees are going the wrong way, a rights owner may use its own platform to retail its own rights. I don't think that will happen in the next five years, but who knows thereafter?" says Turner. After the FA had its fingers burned when Setanta went bust, the then chief executive Ian Watmore vowed never again to leave it without a credible alternative. Last season's successful experiment with streaming live FA Cup matches free in the wake of Setanta's collapse will continue next year, despite a new deal with ESPN and the departure of Watmore. The FA came late to the digital party but appears determined to make up for lost time – its Facebook page is growing exponentially, it has launched an iPhone app and is making judicious use of Twitter. Just as Twitter didn't revolutionise coverage of the general election but changed it subtly, so the way that fans, players, the media and organisations such as Fifa and the FA interact has shifted during this World Cup thanks to the ubiquitous 140-character updates. Part of the brief of Julian Eccles, the FA's new director of marketing and communications who was formerly at Ofcom and BSkyB, will take a more holistic approach to the FA's content strategy, from match programmes to its TV presence and online activity. Alex Horne, Watmore's successor, says he is determined to continue to push a similar agenda despite the pressures on the FA's finances: "First and foremost, we want to engage with the footballing public about our national game, to successfully communicate to an increasingly diverse audience who are consuming their media through a variety of new channels. "If we are also able to turn this to our advantage commercially through digital rights then even better. "Our footage from the World Cup has given us an excellent platform to test our digital strategy, which is important as we face up to ongoing challenges in the commercial marketplace." Fabio Capello must despair as the FA ship of fools heads for rocks The Italian cannot be blamed for mulling over a move to Internazionale given the lack of leadership at Wembley http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2010/jun/01/fabio-capello-fa-england-internazionale (1) Tweet this (8) Comments (71) o Richard Williams o The Guardian, Tuesday 1 June 2010 o Article history Fabio Capello has not ruled out replacing José Mourinho at Internazionale. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images All would be made clear, Fabio Capello announced, as soon as he had talked to a man whose name he couldn't remember. No surprise there. There probably aren't three people in the world who can summon up with any certainty the name of the current chairman of the Football Association. As for the Italian, he must feel he has stepped into a house of mirrors, where slightly different versions of the same blazer-clad figure press in on him from all directions. No wonder the news of Massimo Moratti's interest in appointing him as José Mourinho's successor at Internazionale was not met at the weekend with a flat denial of interest. So yet again, as the subject of Capello's future muddies the waters during the build-up to the World Cup, we are presented with evidence that very little in English public life is more predictable than the ability of the FA to trip over its own bootlaces. Presented with the opportunity to steer the world's most popular game to success and prosperity in the most helpful of environments, generation after generation of administrators persist in finding new ways of courting ridicule, humiliation and disgrace. Today's blazer-wearers are the descendants of the people who, on the eve of England's quarter- final against Argentina in 1966, ordered Alf Ramsey to drop Nobby Stiles, the perpetrator of a particularly bad tackle in the preceding match, against France. "If he goes," Ramsey responded, "I go." Both stayed. A week later, no doubt the FA men and their ladies enjoyed the champagne at their World Cup victory banquet. This time, given the apparently robust state of Wayne Rooney's anatomy, something else had to come along to disrupt the preparations, and the speculation over the manager's post-tournament future seems to be doing the job nicely. Now Capello is trapped between pledging a loyalty with which he may not feel entirely comfortable and potentially undermining the campaign by announcing his decision to accept Moratti's offer – which allegedly amounts, lest we forget, to about £9m a year after tax, or around three times his current salary. Even after a lifetime immersed in the far murkier politics of Italian football, Capello must have found himself bemused as the stumbling exit of Brian Barwick, the man whose overtures brought him to England, was followed by the sudden departure of the FA's first independent chairman, Lord Triesman. In between those leaving parties came one for Ian Watmore, Barwick's successor as chief executive, who lasted barely a year in the job before giving up in frustration over his employers' refusal to carry out necessary reforms. In their haste to announce the agreement to delete the get-out clause from Capello's contract of employment, which had allowed him to leave after the World Cup, halfway through his four-year deal, the FA quite characteristically got ahead of themselves. The subsequent round of musical chairs meant that no one actually got around to turning the verbal agreement into a piece of paper bearing legal weight. Hence Moratti's delight at discovering that an approach could be made. Instead of being able to trumpet their manager's pledge of loyalty, the FA looked naive. However optimistic the assurances that may be made, it is difficult to see anything good coming out of this affair. By appointing another foreign manager with a record of frequent movement, the FA have put themselves at the mercy of market forces over which they have no control, and they may discover that Capello's emotional attachment to England is significantly less than that of Sven-Goran Eriksson. As usual, they have no one to blame but themselves for this distraction from the squad's attempts to turn the promise of the qualifying campaign into fulfilment in the final stages. Asked one day about the accommodation arrangements for a forthcoming England match, Ramsey responded: "The players will be staying at the Hilton. So will I. I don't know where the FA officials are staying. They are nothing to do with me." Capello is probably starting to know how he felt. Ugly scenes and screams turn riches into rubbish A dizzying weekend of unbelievable sporting riches from Lord's, Roland Garros, Istanbul, the Giro d'Italia and elsewhere nevertheless threw up a few reasons to toss the zapper into the bin and go and weed the garden. First, by a long way, was Jonathan Trott's insistence on painstakingly scratching a mark on the Lord's pitch corresponding to the line from one middle stump to the other, and deepening it before every delivery. The habit is ugly, holds up play, and is against the spirit of the game. Someone should have stopped him doing it years ago, but it's never too late. Second was the bizarre noise accompanying every shot made by the otherwise admirable German tennis player Andrea Petkovic during her brief appearance in the women's singles in Paris. ("Sounds like 'OOM-pah'," said the Eurosport commentator, Simon Reed. "It's certainly cold enough for a jumper," he added, reducing his colleague at the microphone, Mats Wilander, to a mystified silence). Third, someone should stop bike racers tossing away their plastic drinks bottles while passing through remote mountain regions. Fine in built-up areas, where spectators collect them as souvenirs, elsewhere it is literally an offence against nature. Crashing Bulls prove F1 has a fresh source of rivalry Given the ever-increasing primacy of the car itself in Formula One, it should not be surprising that this season's principal rivalries are between team-mates. But how differently the contests are being conducted: something increasingly close to all-out war between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull, good-natured jousting (so far) between Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, and a superficial cordiality between Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg at Mercedes. The biggest test is faced by Christian Horner, Red Bull's young team principal, refereeing a contest between an impatient young German who represents the team's future and a veteran Aussie unwilling to yield his shot at immortality. Plenty more drama to come from that garage. Nothing valuable about this mouthful of a monument Love the idea of the Core Values Sculpture at Twickers. Soon to be joined, no doubt, by the Corporate Responsibility mural and the Revenue Streams ornamental gate. Oh, the sheer poetry of it all. No Fifa action against Triesman after retreat from bribery claims • Former FA chairman says he was repeating speculation • Fifa accepts his lordship's explanation http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/may/28/lord-triesman-bribery-claims Tweet this (11) Matt Scott guardian.co.uk, Friday 28 May 2010 20.53 BST Article history Lord Triesman answers questions. Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images Fifa's ethics committee is to take no further action after Lord Triesman told the world governing body there is no substance to the idle talk that cost him his £250,000-a-year job as chairman of both the Football Association and the England 2018 World Cup bid this month. The committee, chaired by the former Switzerland international and lawyer Claudio Sulser, received statements from Triesman and the FA. Fifa described Triesman's remarks, made to Melissa Jacobs – a friend who was secretly taping the conversation for a newspaper – as: "Allegations whereby Spain could drop its 2018 World Cup bid if rival bidder Russia helped bribe referees at this summer's World Cup." However, in a statement to the committee, Triesman, who has made clear he will make no comment on the circumstances surrounding his departure from Wembley, rowed back from what he had said in private. He said he was merely referring to "speculation circulating among journalists in Europe about conspiracies around the world". Triesman told Fifa he was not making specific allegations but merely repeating to Jacobs what he had been told when it was "reported to him in a private capacity". He added it was not his private view and that he had not shared the information with the FA or England 2018, a claim corroborated by the FA in its separate correspondence with Fifa. Fifa confirmed that the FA and England 2018 had conveyed their apologies to Spain and Russia. The world governing body said that during Sulser's 11-day investigation of the allegations dialogue took place with both the Russian and Spanish football federations and "information received from various sources" was examined. "Following this thorough investigation Fifa has found no indication that there is any basis to the allegations reported by Lord Triesman," Fifa said. The ethics committee will maintain a stance that Fifa describes as "vigilant" throughout the bidding process ahead of the December vote to award the 2018 World Cup. Alex Horne new FA general secretary with 'chief executive' title axed • Acting chief executive since Ian Watmore's resignation • Alex Horne confirmed in new role as FA general secretary http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/may/27/alex-horne-fa-general-secretary Tweet this (9) Matt Scott guardian.co.uk, Thursday 27 May 2010 16.49 BST Article history Ian Watmore resigned as FA chief executive in March. Alex Horne has succeeded to Watmore's responsibilities but will be styled general secretary. Photograph: Mike Egerton/Empics Sport Alex Horne was today appointed as the Football Association's general secretary following a board meeting that led to Roger Burden becoming the sole interim chairman. Horne was a steady hand in three separate spells as acting chief executive and his new title mirrors those of the most senior executives at Fifa and Uefa. Burden said: "The board has been greatly impressed by the work that Alex Horne has done in his seven years at the FA. We are confident that in appointing Alex to lead the executive on a permanent basis he will provide strong leadership and stability." The developments mean the former Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks steps down from his role as acting co-chairman, allowing Burden – who comes from within the amateur game as head of the Gloucestershire FA – to take up the post on his own. There were claims of a series of disagreements between the pair over such issues as who would conduct ceremonial duties on the pitch at the England international against Mexico at Wembley on Monday night. In the event it was Sir Dave Richards, the Premier League and FA international committee chairman, who carried out Lord Triesman fell victim to a battle between commerce and committee Lord Triesman was a marked man from the moment he tried to take on the Premier League, something the FA is incapable of doing effectively http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2010/may/23/fa-lord-triesman (2) Tweet this (21) Comments (20) o Paul Hayward o The Observer, Sunday 23 May 2010 o Article history Lord Triesman alienated the Premier League with his attack on their profligate borrowing, but the FA too have failed to reform themselves. Photograph: Sang Tan/PA The politics of English football can be scripted as a civil war between the Football Association and the state within a state known as the Premier League. With no chairman, no chief executive and a joke Wembley pitch the FA are losing this historic struggle between a suffocating committee culture and the rampant consumerism of the game's alternative parliament. In the deeper sense Lord Triesman fell long before he sat down for dinner with a woman who had seen too many FBI stings in The Sopranos. His demise started the day he said the unsayable. The Premier League, he pointed out, was a wild west of debt and unsustainable player wages. We now know that Ian Watmore, the downed chief executive, said much the same, and more, in a paper that went down like "a bucket of sick" with the Premier League, according to a source in David Conn's Guardian report. Watmore, another Whitehall defector, also pointed his torch at the fit and proper persons test, which Pol Pot would have sailed through, and deliberately complex ownership structures that discourage scrutiny. You may think this is shaping up as a defence of the FA in the face of Premier League avarice. No. Sympathy has evaporated for an organisation that refuses to reform itself as recommended by its own Burns report, torches £756m on Wembley and lays a pitch that steeplechasers would recoil from, and takes nearly 10 years to start work on its own plans for a National Football Centre. If the FA are not careful they will end up like the Jockey Club: overseers for the laws of the game and dispensers of gin and tonic. But most of us still feel the game needs a strong FA to protect it from the ram-raids of speculators, owners who are no more tangible than poltergeists and industrialised cheating on the field of play. Watmore went in different circumstances to Triesman, whose demise reminds us that people in public life would be wise to check under the risotto for bugs if they are tempted to make serious allegations with no supporting evidence to companions they assumed to be friends. In March, Watmore stomped out saying he was "neither chief nor executive" after bouncing off the wall of Premier League power and FA paralysis. A stratum of slick young deal-makers compete with Premier League heavies and empire builders from the shires to define what the FA are meant to be for: England, TV deals, the grassroots, the FA Cup, governance, moral leadership or winning a World Cup bid? While they dither, the Premier League have consumed the host, growing so mighty that Triesman was widely portrayed as a dead man walking from the moment he alienated the top 20 clubs with his solo attack on borrowing, which was like bringing a knife to a gunfight. A fatal mistake was to add the chairmanship of the 2018 World Cup bid to his role at the FA. Fifa's electors knew right away that disunity had been mainlined into England's candidacy, which was confirmed when Dave Richards, the Premier League chairman, resigned his 2018 role, claiming, hilariously, that he could be of more use supporting the bid from "outside". So Triesman's reformist dreams were doomed long before the Mail on Sunday finished him off by telling the world of his odd conspiracy theory about Spain and Russia colluding to bribe referees. In football, as in all things, it pays to work out where the real power rests, and it was not with a governing body that has been left crippled with Wembley's construction costs, have failed to preserve the FA Cup's romantic lustre and keep having to dish out £5m a year plus to foreign coaches to manage the national team. In an imagined landscape of crowds flooding up Wembley Way to see a Cup or England game played on perfect grass, the FA represent the many and the Premier League speak for the few. But even Barry Hearn, the Leyton Orient chairman who is assailed by a corruption scandal in snooker, his other sport, is now delivering impassioned speeches about "governance", which I do not remember him doing when he was Chris Eubank's promoter. The problem is the Premier League will not govern, because regulation is alien to their spirit, and the FA cannot, because they are stuck in a vanished age and lack the unity and purpose to face down the big clubs. To Fifa's electors Triesman's remarks will have confirmed the English tendency towards condescension and arrogance and its addiction to tribalism. No one could sensibly dismiss England's stadiums or the ardour it would bring to a tournament staged on these shores, but many of the people charged with bringing the World Cup have committed a crime against the "passion" they ask David Beckham to laud in his speeches to Fifa audiences. There are many things the English/British ought to be a good deal angrier about than they apparently are, and this is one. Any chance of a Great Reform Act for the national game or should we just leave it as a free-for-all? Series: Peter Preston on press and broadcasting Previous | Next | Index Lord Triesman debacle an own goal for cause of press freedom The desire for self-regulation is not advanced by recent stories involving Lord Triesman – and it's time to admit who got it wrong http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/may/23/lord-triesman-press-freedom-causes (1) Tweet this (5) Comments (2) o Peter Preston o The Observer, Sunday 23 May 2010 o Article history Recent strories surrounding Lord Triesman have done nothing to advance the case for continuing self-regulation of the press. Photograph: Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport A former minister, 66, sits down alongside the aide, 37, who used to work for him in Whitehall. They chat about this and that, as old friends do. He shoots the breeze about his current job, saying a few things that may or may not be true, but certainly sound impressive. At which point the aide, a lady called Melissa, switches off her secret tape recorder, finds herself an agent and hawks the tape from newspaper to newspaper. We know what happened next – once the Mail on Sunday had paid Melissa £75,000 or so. Lord Triesman, chairman of the Football Association, quit. England's World Cup bid for 2018 flaked and flailed as the game's international rulers announced an inquiry into his lordship's opinion that Spain and Russia, rival bidders, might have a dodgy way with referees. Gary Lineker gave up his Mail on Sunday column in disgust and the paper's website swilled with reader hostility. And a variety of (non-Mail) women columnists vented their own disgust with the flame-haired betrayer as a curtain of embarrassment began to enfold the whole sorry mess. But, alas, you can't quite stop at that point. There's a new government in Whitehall now, one besieged with editors' pleas for libel reform, clearer safeguards against "judge-made" privacy law and continuing self-regulation through the Press Complaints Commission (PCC). The leader of this campaign, in many indefatigable respects, is Paul Dacre, editor-in-chief of the two Mails, weekly and Sunday. Peter Wright, the editor of the Mail on Sunday, is Associated Newspapers' current PCC member. You wonder, then, how any of these press-freedom causes is enhanced by Melissa, her tapes and her inflated bank balance. You wonder why new ministers in town – "reviewing" libel reforms as they're reviewing almost everything else –should be impressed by the spectacle of a civil servant cashing in at the expense of her old ministerial boss (and country). And you wonder, frankly, if a PCC code that insists on "the highest professional standards" observed in "the full spirit" by the editors who obey it, is quite the guardian of good behaviour you'd hope for. Remember that if Melissa had been a journalist chatting to David Triesman over the bread rolls, anything she'd gleaned would have been off the record. Remember that Triesman's private views on bribing refs could have been the starting point for a proper, digging, probing inquiry, not simply slapped on front pages, and that the PCC, setting out last week to sell its services more vigorously, needs commissioners who steer clear of controversy. There are balancing factors. Any editor seeking stories will trip on the naughty step from time to time. Any system of self-regulation can trip on the judgment step – like any wonky civil servant. But, in the cold light of aftermath, you'd fervently hope those who've let the side down are sensible enough to admit that they got this one wrong – and that (unlike Melissa) they'll promise to do much, much better next time. . Birmingham City fined for player dissent in Aston Villa derby • Club fined £10,000 for failing to control players • FA also issues warning over future conduct http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/may/21/birmingham-fined-aston-villa (1) Tweet this (2) Press Association guardian.co.uk, Friday 21 May 2010 00.29 BST Article history Birmingham's Roger Johnson brings down Gabriel Agbonlahor at Villa Park last month, an incident which led to a penalty award for Aston Villa that the visiting players furiously contested. Photograph: David Davies/PA Birmingham City have been fined £10,000 by the Football Association after being found guilty of failing to control their players in last month's 1-0 defeat by Aston Villa. The charge related to an incident in the match when the referee, Martin Atkinson, awarded a penalty against Birmingham's defender, Roger Johnson, and a number of Blues players reacted angrily. The FA has warned Birmingham about their future conduct in addition to the fine, while Johnson was hit last week with a £7,500 fine for media comments made about Atkinson's performance. Thursday's FA statement read: "At an Independent Regulatory Commission earlier today Birmingham City FC were fined and warned as to their future conduct following a charge of failure to control their players. Having admitted the charge and taken into consideration the club's previous record, the commission ordered that they be fined £10,000." Dangerous wages and a lack of fit owners sparked Watmore walkout How a document on the game's future led the FA chief executive Ian Whatmore to quit http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/may/20/ian-whatmore-fa-resignation-david-conn Tweet this (10) David Conn guardian.co.uk, Thursday 20 May 2010 08.32 BST Article history A leaked document shows that before his sudden resignation the FA's Ian Watmore was deeply concerned about how clubs in England are run. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive/Press Association Ima There are divergent accounts of how well or badly the discussion paper from Ian Watmore, the Football Association's former chief executive, was received when he warned around the turn of the year that English football faces a "severe correction" in which "several clubs would likely face administration or collapse". Watmore, who resigned as chief executive in March, had carefully listed the game's strengths, emphasising the Premier League's immense popularity and commercial successes, before listing 20 "financial challenges" for professional clubs. That list is remarkably stark for an FA chief executive, stating that some clubs' spending on wages is "dangerously high", leaving "a significant number on the brink of severe financial troubles". One of Watmore's observations is particularly fascinating because it is voiced privately all over football but never publicly by the authorities. "The unattractive financial prospects of owning a football club," he wrote, "is putting pressure on the clubs to find 'fit and proper' owners." Watmore is said by insiders to have felt his document received a negative reaction from the Premier League's chief executive, Richard Scudamore, and that the atmosphere was as if Watmore "had left a bucket of sick in the room". The league emphatically rejects that account, saying that while it wants control over its own affairs and has improved its own rules to deal with financial problems, Watmore's paper was received in a "collaborative" spirit. The Premier League issued a written reply to Watmore, setting out the action it is already taking to address some of the concerns. Watmore is understood to have said he agreed with it but added that they should move on to see practically how the issues could be resolved through new regulations. Nothing further was done to produce firm rules on the problems Watmore identified before he resigned suddenly. He did not explain his reasons publicly but he is understood to have grown terminally frustrated by a feeling that the FA, which is constituted to be the game's overall governing body, is hamstrung from fulfilling that role because it lacks independence from the professional leagues. Watmore's paper shows clearly that, somewhat against the public view that he was a bureaucrat rather than a visionary, he believed passionately that the game's finances were running out of control and that the FA should play a central part in reform. Many of these issues are not acknowledged publicly; even though the Premier League has introduced a series of reforms of its financial structure, Scudamore has tended to stress the league's popularity around the world and to argue that the financial collapse of Portsmouth was due to "rank bad management" rather than any systemic failure. Watmore's document reveals that the FA's then chief executive agreed with the fears being expressed for the professional game's financial health by supporters, the then Labour government and sections of the media. His 20 "financial challenges" break down into three broad areas. First, the general climate in which football is operating, including the recession, the more aggressive stance being taken by banks towards clubs which owe them money, a tougher sponsorship climate and a "consolidating" broadcast market. The second was what Watmore saw as reckless spending by clubs, endangering their existence. He described English football dividing into "clusters": clubs which qualify for the Champions League, mid-table Premier League clubs, Championship clubs and so on down the pyramid. "Gaps are growing between these clusters," he argued, "and this causes owners to take bigger risks as they try to jump across the divide." He identified "dangerously high" spending by some clubs throughout the leagues as pushing "a significant number" to "the brink of severe financial troubles". The third broad area Watmore's paper addressed was club ownership. His was a lucid argument, in which he observed that some owners, such as at Portsmouth, were financially hit themselves by the recession, "with a consequent knock-on" to the clubs they were funding. Even those who are genuinely hugely rich, whom he described as "super-benefactors", like Sheikh Mansour at Manchester City and Roman Abramovich at Chelsea, by spending massively on players "add to the inflationary pressures on wages and transfer fees, at a time when others are at their most weak to continue to chase the dream". He suggested a range of measures to address these concerns, including rules to restrict debt-laden takeovers of clubs, like those of Manchester United and Liverpool, and finding ways to close the financial gap between football's different "clusters". The Premier League says that Scudamore was happy to work together with the FA to address the issues set out. The Premier League does, though, jealously guard its own authority to make rules relating to its clubs, and points to a series of measures it has introduced to prevent another Portsmouth-style collapse. The "fit and proper person test" is to be strengthened so that prospective owners must show the Premier League they have the funds to finance their plans for a club. In March every year, clubs must now present their budgets to the league and show how they plan to finance them. A Premier League spokesman also said that several of Watmore's ideas, including limiting the debt clubs can carry from their owners or as a result of takeovers, are up for discussion at the clubs' summer meeting. Lord Triesman's resignation leaves the FA short of a chairman as well as a chief executive, and both Triesman and Watmore were aspirant reformers. The FA is now vulnerable to the professional leagues arguing it should retreat to administering Wembley, the England team, the FA Cup and the grassroots, leaving financial regulation to the leagues themselves. The revelation that, before he left, Watmore produced an analysis this strong highlights the need for the FA not to retreat, and to insist on its duty to govern the game for the good of all. Oh Lord Triesman, where are the hula girls? The bugging of the now former FA chairman failed to provide us with really juicy gossip http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2010/may/20/lord-triesman Tweet this (10) Comments (31) o Anna Kessel o The Guardian, Thursday 20 May 2010 o Article history Lord Triesman is no longer head of the Football Association after being caught out in a tabloid sting. Photograph: John Marsh/Action Images It has been a very middle-class British affair. The kind where sex texts read "sweet dreams" or "the next hours are what I crave". Isn't it all very Judy Blume? Although thankfully the American novelist's famous euphemism "Ralph" does not make an appearance at any stage. For this we must be grateful – and that there are no available photographs of Lord Triesman in his underpants. For a tabloid sting it's definitely lacking in juice. We have grown accustomed to certain standards in kiss 'n' tell exposes in this country – reveal-all ladies in lingerie, and always, always, detailed synopses of "manly" lovemaking. Instead, though, we have a slightly weird lady, Melissa Jacobs (for God's sake don't Google her at work), allegedly suffering from OCD, and a series of lame texts from Lord Triesman. Oh, and some guff about football's dodgy international dealings (sorry, but I just can't bring myself to feign shock). Interestingly, no one has made too much of a fuss about the alleged infidelity bit; we're all far too upset at the thought that we might miss out on hosting the 2018 World Cup – along with all the McDonald's and Visa-enforced consumer opportunities that may bring us. Or maybe we're now just immune to blokes in football shagging around. Luckily, in a totally uncynical way, Melissa kept an up-to-date blog on all the goings-on, romantically titled "The Labour Minister and I – Power is the definitely the ultimate aphrodisiac". Funny, then, that Triesman ended up jobless while Melissa has got herself £75,000 and 15 minutes of fame. I keenly await her recipe for chicken's testicles on the next series of Celebrity Masterchef. Most frustrating of all is Triesman's total inability to spot a stitch-up. By her own admission Melissa has "never been able to put on a fake smile very effectively", which rather makes me scream: 'Lord T you blundering idiot! You encountered a rubbish fake smile and you didn't even spot it? No wonder you never made any headway on the Burns report'. Although the Mail on Sunday spared us the more sordid bits, you can actually find everything you thought you wanted to know on Melissa's blog, although I warn you that some of the details will make you feel a little bit ill. Melissa continues with a full assessment of how fab her body is and how much Lord T liked her hip bone. From this particular passage, despite being unaided by a GCSE in psychology, I think it is safe to assume that Melissa is a total narcissist. Triesman, God bless ya, but you do pick 'em. You were so fast to denounce John Terry and Ashley Cole's hairdresser/topless model antics, yet if you had only followed their simple formula and nabbed yourself a bird of that calibre you would only be getting accused of infidelity, instead of some crackpot international football political scandal. Anyway, let's go to the Lineker element of this story, where Gary tells the Mail on Sunday to stuff it. For me that's definitely the most mind-blowing element of the whole affair. It is safe to say that the world has turned on its head when Gary puts down a packet of chicken teriyaki flavoured crisps and decides instead to picks up an ethical cause. Once a man of principle (no bookings, remember), over the years our Gary slowly metamorphosed into something different – I think it all went wrong when he started stealing crisps from children. Next thing we knew he was permatanned and marrying a lingerie model some 19 years his junior. Now he's come full circle, ditching the newspaper that he happily accepted dough from, and proclaiming them scum. (Seriously, though, Gary, why the surprise?) It is lovely to witness the Mail on Sunday getting a pasting. That they have been accused of a lack of patriotism is even more special. You just couldn't make it up. This from the home of nationalistic-material scare stories over the number of Britons called Mohammed, or advising that immigrants and their children are unlikely to "start reading Jane Austen or tuning in to The Archers". Bloody hell, round up the anti-Austen fans and expatriate them immediately! I do feel, though, that the whole bugging shebang has been an opportunity lost. I wonder how much more Triesman would have said if he knew his career was about to go down the pan? Would he have had a go at all those FA bods who stood in his way over institutional reform? He must have had enough gossip on them to fill the 3am column for a year – late-night pictures of Geoff Thompson getting rowdy with hula girls on a vote-winning trip to Hawaii? Perhaps that is all still to come. Ian Watmore quit the FA in frustration over need for reform • FA chief's plans suffered a negative reaction • Reform proposals greeted like 'a bucket of sick' http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/may/19/ian-watmore-fa-resignation-reasons Tweet this (11) David Conn guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 19 May 2010 22.44 BST Article history The Premier League insists the reform plans of Ian Watmore, the former FA chief executive, were received in a 'collaborative' spirit. Photograph: Mike Egerton/Empics The former chief executive of the Football Association, Ian Watmore, resigned in March due partly to what he felt was a negative response from the Premier League to his suggestions for financial reform of the game. Watmore had warned in a discussion paper seen by the Guardian that professional clubs faced 20 serious "financial challenges", with "a significant number said to be on the brink of severe financial troubles" as a result of "dangerously high" spending on wages. Around the turn of the year, he presented his paper at a regular Friday meeting between the chief executives of the FA and Premier and Football Leagues, arguing that they should consider reforms to deal with the problems. Insiders say Watmore felt his document had met a negative reaction from the Premier League's chief executive, Richard Scudamore, and that the atmosphere was as if Watmore "had left a bucket of sick in the room". The Premier League emphatically rejects that account, saying that while the league does want control over its own affairs, Watmore's paper was received in a "collaborative" spirit. The league issued a reply, setting out the action it is already taking to address some of the concerns, and Watmore is understood to have said he agreed with it, but felt they should look to see how the issues could be resolved. In March, with the process not advanced any further, Watmore resigned. He is known to have been frustrated by feeling that the FA is constrained by the Premier and Football Leagues from acting firmly as the game's governing body, and was also angered by the refusal of Wembley executives to consider having fewer events on the pitch. In the paper, which the Guardian has seen, Watmore wrote that some club owners are under financial pressure themselves due to the recession, and the cost of debt "is putting pressure on cash flows". The "limited number of super-benefactors" were having the effect of inflating wages and transfer fees, he argued. Watmore suggested that the authorities should "collaboratively explore" 10 different measures to wrestle the game into better financial governance. The Premier League argues that it is already improving the governance of clubs' finances with a series of measures, including the requirement that clubs present their budgets for a season in advance, and tightening up the rules on who is "fit and proper" to own and be a director of a club. Alex Horne begins to reshape Ian Watmore's FA • Acting chief executive brings commercial team in-house • New sponsorship deals to be sealed shortly http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/may/19/alex-horne-ian-watmore-fa Tweet this (6) Matt Scott The Guardian, Wednesday 19 May 2010 Article history Ian Watmore. Photograph: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport Alex Horne has begun to shape the Football Association according to his own designs since taking over as acting chief executive six weeks ago. Horne filled the breach left by the sudden departure of Ian Watmore in March and one of his first moves has been to undo a decision that characterised his predecessor's running of the FA. Upon the departure last year of the long-serving former commercial director Jonathan Hill, Watmore scrapped the position and took a tighter rein on the department from his own office. Watmore also outsourced the responsibility for testing the market for new sponsorship deals to IMG. The agency has so far been unable to produce improved alternative offers for the FA's primary commercial partnerships, and time is running out on existing deals which expire after the World Cup. The failure to extend sponsorship agreements with Nationwide and National Express in particular has even fallen foul of the FA's own commercial-risk-mitigation rules, which state the intention to ensure "negotiations are concluded at least one year in advance of the contract start date". Only a few weeks from expiry a £5m-a-year contract extension with Nationwide remains unsigned and National Express is almost certain to downgrade its FA interest from partner to supplier level. Now Horne has promoted the head of broadcast, Stuart Turner, to run the commercial department. Having moved in to the FA's top executive job from chief operating officer and recognising the qualities of his staff, Horne has been more ready to delegate, and action on the Nationwide sponsorship is expected soon. Bid gets ears to ground In what might be described as a timely appointment, England 2018 has recruited Weber Shandwick to provide support to its international-communications operation. Part of the remit will be the company's overseas offices providing on-the-ground intelligence on how the English bid is viewed in their territories: the feedback from Madrid and Moscow will no doubt be enlightening. Meanwhile, Geoff Thompson's first meeting on Monday as the new England 2018 chairman was with Simon Greenberg, the former journalist who is the bid's chief of staff. The biggest criticism of Thompson's nine-year tenure as Football Association chairman was his lack of a public profile. But England 2018 is not likely to alter that with the chief executive, Andy Anson, and international president, David Dein, better suited to frontline media appearances. Dein the FA chair? David Dein's name is being linked to the FA chairmanship by some of those with an interest in the appointment. Joining him as the subject of speculation are the former Ipswich Town chairman David Sheepshanks, and the former Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry. But neither Sheepshanks, as a current FA director, nor Parry, as a consultant to the Saudi football federation, would satisfy the independence test. That rules out anyone who has had a business relationship with any club, league or football association within 12 months of taking the job. Dein's 2018 role might also count him out, and in any case he would need the prior approval of the FA board even to make the nominations long list. Burns reform off agenda The warning in these pages yesterday from the new sports minister, Hugh Robertson that football is in his firing line over its dysfunctional governance appears to have fallen on deaf ears in the FA council. Even its progressives believe the chance for reform went with Triesman's lack of interest. The peer owed his position to the Burns review that made him the first independent chairman of the FA. But at the council agm he chaired 12 months ago he made no room on the agenda for discussion of further Burns reforms. The agenda for today's council agm is no different. The FA could do with the humdrum efficiency of Graham Kelly He was often derided, but if the FA wants a leader who gets things done it would do well to remember the virtues of its first chief executive http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2010/may/18/fa-leader-graham-kelly Tweet this (6) Comments (39) o Richard Williams o The Guardian, Tuesday 18 May 2010 o Article history Graham Kelly oversaw the difficult task of rebuilding English football in the aftermath of Heysel, the Bradford fire and Hillsborough. Photograph: John Sibley/Action Images Send for David Davies! That was so often the cry on the frequent occasions when the Football Association managed to shoot itself in the foot. Call in Teflon Man, the Zelig of English football, the chap whose smooth demeanour and emollient words had enabled him to survive other men's crises. Not this time, however. The one they should probably summon, from wherever he has been living with his collection of Blackpool programmes, is Graham Kelly. How we used to laugh at Kelly, the drab, droning, lard-faced apparatchik, a former amateur goalkeeper whose sights were set no higher than rising from the cashier's counter to become the assistant manager of his local branch of Barclays until he spotted an advertisement for a job at the Lytham St Annes headquarters of the Football League, whose secretary was the majestically autocratic Alan Hardaker. From that point Kelly was transformed into the man who rose without trace, taking over Hardaker's job in 1978 before becoming the FA's first chief executive in 1989. He held the job for nine years, a turbulent period during which he assisted with the post-Heysel, post-Bradford, post-Hillsborough rebuilding of English football while dealing with a constant stream of flak from Margaret Thatcher's government. He helped to secure and stage Euro 96 as a part of that process, and gave his organisation's assent to the fateful agreement by which the top groups broke away to form the Premier League. In the end, of course, a scandal did for him, he and his chairman, Keith Wiseman, resigning in 1998 after being accused of illegally lending £3.2m to the Welsh FA in order to secure a vote for Wiseman in Fifa's vice-presidential elections. They were later cleared of wrongdoing by a Fifa inquiry, but never returned to the top flight of football administration. Kelly was a privately likeable but publicly uninspiring man who, when he appeared on television to explain tragedy and triumph alike, was guaranteed to send the nation to sleep. It seemed to me at the time that the opening ceremony of Euro 96, with its quite breathtakingly unspectacular demonstration of country dancing, must have been created from his personal memories of a modest post-war childhood in Lancashire. But he loved football, and even though he got a smarter haircut and some better-fitting suits along with a new partner during his term of office, he never seemed to be in it principally for the gratification of his own ego. And, in his quiet, rather bumbling way, he got some important things done in the FA's old-fashioned offices on Lancaster Gate, where he campaigned against racism and sexism in the game. Davies stepped into the breach when Kelly made his abrupt departure, as he was to do again following the equally hasty exits from the shiny new Soho Square offices of first Adam Crozier – Kelly's successor, and a man as far away in temperament and scale of ambition as could be imagined – and then Mark Palios. Following the publication a couple of years ago of his memoirs, FA Confidential: Sex, Drugs and Penalties (which turned out to be not as lively as its title suggests), Davis is now almost certainly considered non papabile, even on a caretaker basis. Running the FA must be a hell of a job, since so many evidently capable men – the procession of former politicians, civil servants and TV executives, of thrusting young advertising men and marketing gurus – have failed to meet its demands. Vanity, perhaps, is what brings them down like so many clay pigeons. On such a public stage, their ambition becomes swollen and their judgment distorted. The association's most recent chairman and his chief executive, who barely had time to find their way around the new Wembley headquarters, were lifelong fans, respectively, of Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. Perhaps it would be better to entrust the leadership of the English game to someone not quite so easily identified with the big battalions. Time, maybe, for a return to Blackpool. Tuscan torrents make for an epic Giro d'Italia Their faces caked with mud, their eyes extinguished by suffering, their mouths gaping in silent screams of anguish, they looked like men emerging from the trenches of the Somme. An incessant rain had drained the television images of their usual bright colours, transforming the sight of the competitors in Saturday's stage of the Giro d'Italia into a vision from another age. Starting on the Ligurian coast in Carrara, the source of Michelangelo's marble, they rode south to the Tuscan hill town of Montalcino in truly horrible conditions: a temperature of 6C and so much rain that the unmade roads on which the stage approached its climax resembled cart tracks in midwinter. Cadel Evans crossed the line first after a desperate battle with Alexandre Vinokourov, the Aussie following his recent victory in the similarly gruelling Flèche Wallonne with another demonstration of the pride with which he is wearing the world champion's rainbow jersey. But this was a day on which every man – including David Millar, finishing 11th, and Bradley Wiggins, 34th – could count himself a hero. The word "epic" doesn't do it justice. Moss's powers of recovery are as strong as ever Sir Stirling Moss took his first unaided steps the other day, only two months after falling 30ft down an empty lift shaft, breaking both ankles and damaging several vertebrae. The vigour of his recovery is reminiscent of that almost superhuman recovery 50 years ago when he broke both legs and his back in a high-speed crash during practice for the Belgian grand prix. Seven weeks later he was back in a racing car, and winning. In his 81st year, those prodigious powers of recovery continue to serve him well. Wilkinson's philosophy translated into French Jonny Wilkinson could not quite take Toulon past Clermont to the final of the French championship, but on the morning of Saturday's semi-final he spoke to L'Equipe about the vexing dichotomy between the selfishness required of a top sportsman and the ego-less state he pursues in his personal life. Seasoned Wilkinson-watchers have heard this before. But not – as the interviewer noted – in perfect French. Chapeau, Jonny. What now for the game, the FA and the 2018 World Cup bid? Lord Triesman has inflicted damage but some believe the bid team will emerge stronger http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/may/17/lord-triesman-fa-world-cup-2018 Tweet this (8) o Owen Gibson o guardian.co.uk, Monday 17 May 2010 21.11 BST o Article history England's 2018 World Cup bid team are planning damage limitation after Lord Triesman's resignation at the FA. Photograph: Tom Jenkins Why is Lord Triesman's departure such a problem for the FA? Because it leaves the organisation without a permanent chairman or chief executive. Chief executive Ian Watmore quit in frustration in March, railing against the "vested interests" on the board that left him believing he was "neither chief nor an executive". Triesman's resignation, for altogether different reasons, means that while the acting joint chairmen (David Sheepshanks and Roger Burden) and acting chief executive (Alex Horne) can ensure the operational side of the organisation should run relatively smoothly there is no one to set a strategic vision at a crucial juncture. Why is this time so crucial? The FA faces pressing challenges more than at any time in recent memory. The financial burden of Wembley, combined with uncertainty over sponsorship and broadcast revenues and the future direction of the organisation mean key issues need to be urgently dealt with. But the next few months are likely to prove critical in the debate over who should regulate the game in this country. If the FA does not have a strong voice, it could become marginalised in that debate. Why is there deadlock at the top of the organisation? The representatives from the national game, eager to hang on to their influence, have blocked significant reform on various occasions, including the original recommendation of the Burns review to add two non-executives to the board. The structure of the board – five from the professional game, five from the national game and the chairman and chief executive – make it difficult to get anything done. The fear of those who would like to see it reformed is that Watmore's departure will lead to the FA retreating into its shell as the professional game takes the lead in effectively governing the sport. Wasn't Triesman supposed to fix this? Yes but he made several errors before giving up in frustration. Having been appointed as the FA's first independent chairman, Triesman was supposed to introduce the other changes recommended by Lord Burns, including the introduction of non-executive directors. The Premier League, which had voted in favour of the Burns reforms, clashed with the chairman on other issues and Triesman's response to seven searching questions from then culture secretary Andy Burnham on the subject of football's future was viewed as a "cry for help". Having fallen out with many of his board, under severe provocation from some, and failed to build a consensus of opinion on the FA's future role it was impossible to gain any momentum for reform. What now? The absence of a full time chairman or chief executive atop the FA could be seen as a threat or an opportunity. New sports minister Hugh Robertson has challenged football's squabbling administrators to come up with a new plan. Others, including some at the Premier League, insist there is no crisis and would like to see the FA run the England team, develop the grassroots and become the administrative arm of English football. Much will depend on who is chosen for the two senior roles and the willingness of government to get involved in what could be a bruising battle with football with no obvious upside. What next for the 2018 bid? Damage limitation will be the name of the game for the foreseeable future, with Sir Keith Mills and Lord Coe advising the board on how to manage the fallout from the damage done by Lord Triesman's allegations. Mills said yesterday he believed the situation was recoverable and that the first step would be to regain confidence in the bid and that the lessons of the 2012 campaign would help win over Fifa executive committee members. Coe and Mills have been exasperated at the level of infighting and public briefing, believing that the control that was exerted by the successful 2012 bidding team is crucial to winning the race. Who will take the lead? Although Mills and Coe will continue to provide strategic advice and make calls on the bid's behalf, the day-to-day lobbying work will be led by the new chairman, Geoff Thompson; David Dein, the head of international relations; and Andy Anson, the 2018 chief executive. Can they recover? Initial soundings from Fifa executive committee members yesterday suggested serious damage had been inflicted on the bid by the affair but others believed it would emerge stronger for having removed one of the sources of conflict on the board. Fifa's referral of the incident to its ethics committee will be seen as a blow because it will give it added legs and enable rivals to make more capital from it. Russia, with strong political backing and deep pockets, have emerged as favourites while the Spanish and Portuguese joint bid will continue to benefit from strong political links within Fifa. Yet England's technical bid is strong and the bid team hope their pitch to use the proceeds to develop football around the world will win over wavering executive committee members. Lord Sugar keen to replace Lord Triesman as FA chairman • Former Tottenham chairman interested in reforming FA • 'I would certainly be interested,' says Apprentice star http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/may/17/lord-sugar-triesman-fa (4) Tweet this (12) Tom Bryant guardian.co.uk, Monday 17 May 2010 09.43 BST Article history Lord Sugar believes he is the man to replace Lord Triesman at the FA. Photograph: Getty Images Lord Sugar is interested in taking charge of the Football Association following Lord Triesman's departure from the role after being recorded making bribery allegations about Spain and Russia's bids to host the 2018 World Cup. The former Tottenham Hotspur chairman and star of the television show The Apprentice said he wants to talk to the FA about replacing Triesman. Sugar advised the last government on business as its enterprise champion. "I would certainly be interested. Not just in terms of the World Cup bid but in terms of reforming the whole FA," he told the Sun. "A couple of people have emailed me to say they think I would be ideal for the role and that's given me the seed of an idea. "I have had no contact from the FA but it is an interesting idea and everyone knows I have been a strong commentator on the state of English football. And it's not as if I would be an outsider coming into the game. I do have something of a track record in football. Since the election I don't have my government role any more so it could be a case of one door closing and another one opening." Sugar said the FA needs to be reformed and that it would be a "great honour" to be considered for the post. He suggested that, were he to get the job, he would seek to take the emphasis of the sport away from the Premier League. "I've long thought there needs to be a reform in the constitution of the FA," he said. "Some of the rules go back a very long time – some very good rules but I don't think they have changed with the times. The rules create financial problems for the clubs. "I think Lord Mawhinney did a very good job in his capacity as chairman of the Football League. He got things moving in the right direction. There is a need for some major, major changes in the constitution but that would take a long time and need a lot of people to sign up to it. "I don't think the resistance would be as hard as you might imagine. The point is the constitution and the rules and regulations of being members needs to be looked at again. If that could be changed and there were more controls at the FA, it would make for a much more sensible organisation, thus allowing investment in grassroots, perhaps taking the highlight away from the obvious top level of the game – the Premiership." David Sheepshanks and Roger Burden have been named as acting joint-chairmen of the FA, while Geoff Thompson has been appointed the chairman of England's World Cup bid. Lord Triesman falls to a very English coup First independent chairman was appointed to bring the FA into the present but, thinking 2018, got too far ahead of himself http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/blog/2010/may/17/lord-triesman-fa-2018-bid (11) Tweet this (11) Comments (225) o David Conn o The Guardian, Monday 17 May 2010 o Article history David Beckham joined Lord Triesman in Zurich last week to hand over the bid book for the 2018 World Cup at Fifa headquarters. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images The ignominious end for Lord Triesman of his rocky two-year tenure as the Football Association's first independent chairman was a very English coup, not the result of some fierce row over principle with the vested interests on the FA board, but a kiss-and-tell sting which delivered its tabloid sponsor more loose talk than it could have hoped for. Only Melissa Jacobs knows why she decided to betray Triesman to the Mail on Sunday, the paper has not said whether or how much it paid her and many football fans were more furious with the paper for damaging the 2018 World Cup bid than with Triesman for talking big with a woman in a restaurant. But, however much Triesman justifiably complained about "entrapment" in the FA's statement yesterday, he had no option but to go. England's campaign to host that tournament simply could not be led by a chairman caught, in whatever circumstances, glibly alleging that England's Spanish and Russian competitors, and Fifa members, are corrupt. • Thompson to lead 2018 bid after Triesman resignation • Sheepshanks and Burden step into breach at FA • Russian, Spanish and Portuguese all react angrily If the FA chairman had solid evidence, he was duty-bound to report it formally. If he did not, as the 2018 team's hasty faxed apologies to Madrid, Moscow and Zurich confirmed, he accepted he could not continue as the face of a bid delivered with such smiling optimism by David Beckham on Thursday. Insiders say Triesman still hoped he could stay on as the FA's chairman but he received no support in yesterday's board meeting. That isolation was a cruel, final commentary on his time as the FA's first independent chairman in 125 years. Triesman was appointed to wrest English football's old, hidebound governing body into one fit for the challenges of the 21st century. Most centrally it is the FA's role to manage the runaway commercial behemoth of the Premier League in the wider interests of a sport still considered by most of its adherents as properly the people's game. Great hopes were invested in him after he took the chair in January 2008 and showed he understood that there is more to football than the Premier League. He seemed to many at the grass roots, and to the amateur national game representatives on the board, a breath of enlightenment, with the nerve to stand up for his beliefs. The former head of the AUT lecturers' union, general secretary of the Labour Party and junior Foreign Office minister, he seemed to bring cultured reason to the stifling air of the FA's board and shark-infested committee rooms. He produced a vision for the FA, incorporating the ambition to be "a world-class organisation", which would oversee a sport successful from the England team to the grass roots and which, "in partnership with the professional clubs, will work to achieve agreement on the important issues affecting the game". Triesman, like Adam Crozier and Ian Watmore, two of the four chief executives who have left the FA in eight years, believed the divisions between professional and amateur game could be overcome and that football's politics could not be as lethal as those in the real world he came from. The 2005 review by former Treasury mandarin Lord Burns, which led to Triesman's appointment, also recommended the FA introduce two independent directors, to balance the stand-off on its board between the five representatives of the professional game – three Premier League, two Football League – and five from the "national game". Those two appointments have never been made, and Triesman does not appear ever to have pushed for them, which gradually undermined his legitimacy. Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive, became an implacable enemy as soon as Triesman publicly warned about the professional clubs' £3bn debt mountain in an October 2008 speech which, courtesy of Portsmouth and Manchester United, has since been amply vindicated. The ferocity of the criticism which then found its way into the press, much of it based on pretty thin grounds, did shock Triesman. He appeared to give up the fight, and any hope of the FA truly regulating the professional game. Instead he focused most of his efforts on the 2018 bid, believing that if the tournament could be secured, it would be his great legacy, rather than burying himself in the grim attrition of grappling the FA into a body which could govern. In March Watmore, with whom Triesman worked well, resigned because he could no longer bear the hamstrung impotence of the FA. Yet while the FA was plunged into another vacuum of leadership it was all going so well at 2018. Triesman and the bid survived slings and arrows from the media and Premier League, whose chairman, Sir David Richards, walked out from the board last November. Then Melissa Jacobs, 37, turned up for dinner wearing a wire fixed up by the Mail on Sunday, and Triesman, 66, gossiped himself out of his jobs. David Sheepshanks and Roger Burden step into the breach at the FA • Duo installed as emergency co-chairmen • Sir Dave Richards overlooked for role http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/may/16/david-sheepshanks-roger-burden-fa-chairmen (2) Tweet this (11) Matt Scott guardian.co.uk, Sunday 16 May 2010 21.42 BST Article history David Sheepshanks, the former chairman of Ipswich Town, is one of the FA's new co-chairmen. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian David Sheepshanks and Roger Burden have become the Football Association's emergency co- chairmen after Lord Triesman's resignation plunged the organisation into fresh chaos tonight. Sheepshanks and Burden are FA board members and will occupy the role at least until after the next FA board meeting on 26 May. Barry Bright will chair Wednesday's annual general meeting of the FA council, arguably the most important date in the organisation's calendar, when it meets without Triesman, its formal president. The stopgap decisions were taken at an emergency board meeting today as Triesman's departure constituted the organisation's biggest governance challenge for a decade. The FA is now searching for both a chairman and a chief executive, having lacked the latter since the resignation of Ian Watmore in March, following his splenetic email to superiors on the FA board. • Triesman falls victim to a very English coup • Thompson to lead 2018 bid after Triesman resignation • Russian, Spanish and Portuguese all react angrily Not since 1998, when the then chief executive Graham Kelly and chairman Keith Wiseman departed over a controversial £3.2m loan to the Football Association of Wales, has the governing body lost both its most senior figures in such a short space of time. Like Wiseman in 1998, Triesman faced a vote of no confidence from his fellow FA directors, having been ousted as chairman of England 2018 World Cup bid earlier in the day. Unlike Wiseman, Triesman favoured resignation over the sack. Now Alex Horne, the acting chief executive who acceded to the position only on Watmore's abrupt departure, will report to the new leaders. The decision to appoint Sheepshanks, the former Ipswich Town chairman, to the role in favour of Sir Dave Richards is a surprise. Richards is Burden's counterpart as chairman of the professional game board – Burden chairs the national game board – and is head of the international committee. He might have expected that recognition of his seniority. However, Richards is as divisive a figure as Triesman has been and would not have enjoyed universal support from the amateur game. By contrast Sheepshanks, as chairman of FA Learning and responsible for the development of the national football centre near Burton-on-Trent, has broader appeal. Triesman has long argued that his presence as a strong chairman would be required to counter the increasing threat of a government regulator for football. His abrupt departure is therefore a sign that the FA's board no longer considers that threat to be real following the election of a Conservative-led coalition government that will be significantly less dirigiste in sporting matters than its predecessor. A bigger threat to the FA's autonomy is the remaining £325m still to pay on the group's Wembley loans. The FA has burned through five chief executives in a decade, a failure of corporate governance that in the current economic climate could make lenders wary. That threat would rise in normal circumstances for a company that has made cash losses of £7m and £15m in each of the past two years for which accounts are available. However, there is confidence within the game that the FA is considered a special case, given that to foreclose on Wembley would be to undermine the national sport. Football is banking on the likelihood that the consortium of lenders headed by Barclays would not wish to take that public-relations risk. Horne, who in addition has good links among the FA's lenders and was principally responsible for the term loan's refinancing last year, is expected to assume the role as chief executive on a permanent basis after the World Cup. But it will take months to secure a replacement for Triesman at a critical time for the FA. FA loses key sponsorship deal as National Express pull out • FA struggles to plug gap in finances after Setanta collapse • Doubts over Nationwide and no new FA Cup sponsor http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/may/05/national-express-football-association (1) Tweet this (23) Dan Milmo and Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 5 May 2010 20.10 BST Article history National Express has decided to end their major sponsorship deal with the FA after a company reshuffle. Photograph: National Express The Football Association is facing a new financial headache after it emerged that the transport giant National Express would not be renewing its multimillion-pound sponsorship deal. Confirmation that the company would not be renewing its main agreement for the 2010 to 2014 period leaves the FA's acting chief executive, Alex Horne, searching for a new second-tier supporter to fill the gap. Dean Finch, National Express's chief executive, said the company would not be renewing a deal signed by his predecessor, Richard Bowker, who resigned last year amid mounting financial problems at the transport business. Finch said: "We will not be renewing it. We are better focused elsewhere. I am not compelled by the impact of that sponsorship." English football's governing body is already looking for a replacement for the FA Cup's main sponsor, E.ON, which opted not to renew its £7.5m-a-year deal when it ends following this month's final. Meanwhile, negotiations with the lead England sponsor, Nationwide, are at a stand-off. The FA employed the sports rights advisers IMG to solicit interest from elsewhere after Nationwide refused to meet its increased asking price but no alternative has been found, with the current deal expiring in August. In the meantime Nationwide's original offer, believed to be worth around £20m, is still on the table. The FA has renewed second-tier deals with Carlsberg and the kit supplier Umbro, and signed new agreements with Mars and Virgin Atlantic. World Cup qualification boosted licensing revenues, with deals agreed with dozens of companies. The FA is believed to be confident it can salvage some elements of the National Express deal, specifically relating to its relationship with Wembley Stadium. "We are still in discussions with the FA to continue some parts of our sponsorship," a National Express spokeswoman said. The FA is close to renewing deals with Tesco and McDonald's related to its grassroots and coaching programmes. Following the departure of the commercial director Jonathan Hill last year, the then FA chief executive Ian Watmore took the lead in negotiating the crucial commercial deals but he too quit in controversial circumstances in March. Income from the sponsorship deals has become vital after the collapse of Setanta left a hole in the FA's finances, already stretched due to the need to service loan repayments on Wembley and fund the 2018 World Cup bid. It signed a replacement TV deal with ESPN but the £60m deal still left a substantial shortfall that led to budget cuts. National Express is now in better financial shape, although the abandonment of the £1.4bn East Coast rail franchise last year dented the image of a company that would benefit from an association with a World Cup-winning team. Asked if he was worried about missing out on the reflective glory of a tournament win, Finch said: "I guess I will have to take that risk." Under the terms of the three-year deal announced in 2007, the coach, bus and rail group became the official travel partner of the England team and the FA Cup, using its extensive coach network to ferry fans to and from the national stadium. FA launches investigations into violence at Luton and Hillsborough • Seven people arrested at Luton after violent pitch invasion • Eight arrests at Hillsborough as Palace player attacked http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/may/04/luton-york-wednesday-palace-violence (2) Tweet this (10) Dominic Fifield guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 4 May 2010 13.42 BST Article history Riot police attempt to keep fans apart after Sheffield Wednesday were relegated on Sunday. Photograph: Craig Brough/Action Images The Football Association has contacted Sheffield Wednesday, Crystal Palace and Luton Town seeking an explanation for the ugly crowd trouble which marred critical fixtures over the bank holiday weekend, with a view to banning those who instigated the violence from matches. Inquiries were launched after fans came on to the pitch at Hillsborough on Sunday following a 2- 2 draw which condemned Wednesday to League One, and at Kenilworth Road yesterday after York's 1-0 Conference play-off semi-final victory completed a 2-0 aggregate success. Seven people were arrested at Luton after home fans sprinted towards the visiting supporters on the final whistle and threw missiles, including coins, at police and York's players as they sheltered at the back of the stand. Stewards and police had to assist the visiting players to escape to the dressing rooms via a medical room towards the rear of the away end as objects were flung by some of those on the pitch. Violence later broke out on Dunstable Road, where some fans threw mops and brooms found outside a DIY store at police officers attempting to restore order. A number of officers sustained minor injuries. The Luton chairman, Nick Owen, described the scenes as "shattering". "One or two of our fans have let the club down," he said. There remains the possibility that Luton, like Wednesday and, possibly, Palace will face financial penalties following the incidents. The final whistle at Hillsborough brought some fans from both clubs on to the playing area and, although most of the visiting supporters were quickly pushed back into the away stand, home fans were then involved in running skirmishes with Palace players, most notably Clint Hill, as they attempted to return to the tunnel. Hill told the Daily Mail: "I couldn't believe what I was seeing on Sunday. When you see that sort of anger in people's eyes, it's just unbelievable. I was completely shocked by it. It was just pure and utter hatred. "I had young kids throwing punches at me and even spitting at me. What is that about? What chance have we got if young children are doing that? It shouldn't happen at all in society, let alone football. "I've heard there was a 53-year-old woman who was really hurt. I can take a few digs but a 53- year-old woman? That is not on at all. I'm happy Sheffield are taking steps to make sure things are done about those people, I'm confident they will punish those people who were involved." Eight Wednesday fans were subsequently arrested outside the ground for public order offences as trouble spilled on to the streets around Hillsborough, with police vehicles and property damaged. The FA spoke to both clubs today as well as with the local authorities, collecting evidence relating to the incidents to assist their inquiries. The governing body's crowd-control advisers were at both fixtures and had already filed their reports. "The FA does not condone disorder either outside or inside football stadiums and thankfully such problems remain infrequent in the modern game," an FA spokesman said. "However, any individuals identified as having taken part in any form of disorder should be dealt with appropriately by the authorities and issued with football banning orders as they simply have no place in our game." FA and Premier League join forces to quash Portsmouth's Europe hopes • FA and Premier League issue joint statement on Uefa licence • Action taken to refute claims by club administrator http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/apr/28/portsmouth-uefa-licence-premier-league Tweet this (12) Owen Gibson guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 28 April 2010 20.38 BST Article history Portsmouth's joint administrator, Andrew Andronikou, drew the ire of the Premier League and the FA for his criticism over their refusal to consider a Uefa club licence application. Photograph: Sang Tan/AP The Premier League and the Football Association have taken the unusual step of issuing a joint statement to hit back at Portsmouth's administrators and quash claims that the club may yet find a way to play in the Europa League next season. The joint administrator, Andrew Andronikou, had last week criticised the approach of the football authorities to the issue as "quite a shambles" and subsequently claimed he would take the case to the court of arbitration for sport if necessary. But the FA and the Premier League said today that Portsmouth had failed to meet the qualifying criteria for a licence, had missed the 31 March deadline to apply and had still yet to submit a formal application. A statement said: "In order for a club to obtain a Uefa club licence for the 2010-11 season they need to show that as of December 2009 they had no outstanding money owed to the tax authorities or football clubs. This is manifestly not the case for Portsmouth FC." Ordinarily, Portsmouth would already have qualified for next season's Europa League by reaching the FA Cup final against opponents certain to qualify for the Champions League. But they had not applied for the necessary Uefa licence by the deadline set by the FA and the Premier League, although Uefa's own deadline of 31 May has not yet passed. "The FA and Premier League made Mr Andronikou's lawyers, who we had been asked to deal with, aware on 16 April that we would not accept a late Uefa club licence application from Portsmouth FC." Andronikou was accused of being disingenuous with his reference to "exceptional circumstances". "The exceptional circumstances referred to by Mr Andronikou only apply to clubs who qualify for European competition whilst they are in the Football League," the statement said. "The Premier League and the FA are both fully committed to upholding the governance criteria set out in the Uefa licence for all clubs looking to compete in European competition." Andronikou reacted angrily after being told by the FA and Premier League last week that a late application would not be considered. He said then: "I think it's quite a shambles. There are rules and regulations but there is also football protocol and the way they have approached this subject means they must have made a significant U-turn." Portsmouth told to forget about Europa League bid • FA and Premier League will not consider late application • Decision means seventh-placed Premier League team qualifies http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/apr/22/portsmouth-europa-league (17) Tweet this (27) Press Association guardian.co.uk, Thursday 22 April 2010 12.11 BST Article history Portsmouth faced Milan in the Uefa Cup in 2008, but there will be no European adventure for the club next season. Photograph: Lee Mills/Action Images Portsmouth will not be permitted to play in the Europa League next season, the Football Association and Premier League have told the club. Portsmouth would have qualified to play in Europe next season after reaching the FA Cup final against Chelsea – who will be in the Champions League – but the club's administrators have been told that any late application for a Uefa club licence will not be considered due to the club's financial problems. A joint statement from the FA and Premier League said: "The FA and Premier League have confirmed to the administrators of Portsmouth Football Club that they shall not consider any late application for granting of a Uefa Club Licence for the 2010-11 season." The decision means that the team who finish seventh in the Premier League – currently Liverpool – would play in the Europa League instead. FA faces Leeds Carnegie conundrum with Champions League place in doubt • Exclusion from Super League threatens participation in Europe • Leeds defeated by Arsenal but still on course for second http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/apr/19/womens-football-leeds-carnegie (1) Tweet this (9) Tony Leighton guardian.co.uk, Monday 19 April 2010 00.10 BST Article history The Football Association will face a conundrum if Leeds Carnegie finish the season as either Premier League champions or runners-up, a scenario that seems likely despite a 1-0 defeat by Arsenal yesterday, the result seeing the Gunners replace Leeds at the top of the table. Each of the league's top two teams will qualify to play in next season's Champions League but Uefa rules stipulate that clubs taking part in the European competition must be part of their domestic top flight – which Leeds will not be from next year as their attempt to become members of the FA's new Super League was controversially withdrawn by their sponsors, Leeds Metropolitan University, who at the end of the current campaign will withdraw all support for the club. "If Leeds finish in the top two," said the Premier League secretary, Tessa Hayward, "we would have to put the situation to the [FA] Women's Committee and take it from there. Leeds would obviously deserve their place in Europe but we would probably have to consult with Uefa before giving the go-ahead." Whether or not they are in the Champions League, Leeds should at least still be in existence after allaying fears that the club would be closed down due to losing the financial backing of the University. "We've got new backers in place," said the club secretary, Sue Walton, "and we should be in a position to make a positive announcement on our future by the end of the month." Yesterday's defeat left Leeds level on points with third in the table Chelsea, who beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 but have played two more games than Carnegie. Fourth-placed Everton, who won 4-0 at Sunderland, are three points behind. Bristol remained bottom after a 2-1 defeat at Blackburn. FA's acting chief executive Alex Horne was twice rejected for the job • Third time lucky for Ian Watmore's replacement • Work as finance director was way to dream role http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/mar/30/fa-alex-horne-lord-triesman (1) Tweet this (8) Matt Scott The Guardian, Tuesday 30 March 2010 Article history Alex Horne's steady handling of choppy financial waters at the FA has helped him to assume the role of chief executive. Photograph: Adam Davy/Empics Alex Horne's accession to acting chief executive of the Football Association last week is a remarkable turnaround for a man twice rejected for the role. The FA board took the unanimous decision at an emergency meeting last Tuesday to invite Horne to become the FA's most senior employee after the departure of Ian Watmore, who quit the organisation after nine months in the post. It is third time lucky for Horne, who made the shortlist to replace Brian Barwick last year but was overlooked in favour of Watmore. Horne was also passed over for a more influential position 18 months ago when the FA chairman, Lord Triesman, pushed for him to become a beefed-up chief operating officer in line with the findings of a PricewaterhouseCoopers report. But that report also called for Triesman to be elevated into a full-time executive chairman's position, a proposal that the FA board rejected. It might seem that the board has taken a gamble on Horne, at 37, but it knows him well. He was appointed FA finance director by Mark Palios in 2004 at a time when the FA faced a cashflow crisis. But his handling of that incident and the favourable refinancing he secured on the FA's Wembley loans have allowed him to realise his ambition of becoming the FA's chief executive. One senior figure said yesterday: "The FA needs a chief executive from within the game." And if he gets it right, this time it is unlikely to look further than Horne. Triesman sounds pro am Ian Watmore's departure last week is still the talk of football, with everyone involved in the professional game referring to the event as a "catalyst" for change. But no one seems to have come up with any ideas as to how to achieve it. The government has called for the wholesale adoption of the Burns review, which demanded reform of the FA's antiquated governance structures. But the amateur-game representatives, who stand to lose most from its proposed reforms, have no intention of ceding ground. Lord Triesman has privately told pro-reformists that there is "no appetite" for change. Several of them have noted that his term as FA chairman is up for re-election next year and to achieve that he needs the support of the amateur-dominated FA council. He therefore owes his £150,000-a- year, three-day-a-week FA position to the blazers and some suspect he is anxious not to undermine that constituency. Is that what Triesman was hinting at in an interview with Radio 5 Live on Sunday, when he said: "I try to push things through as fast as I can, knowing I need the consent of all people across the building blocks of the FA. But you can have glorious defeat every day if you really want it"? Final adds gloss to bid If Fifa really is looking for a "safe bet" for the 2018 World Cup after the financial uncertainty of taking the next two tournaments to South Africa and Brazil, all roads continue to point to England. Southampton's 4-1 defeat of Carlisle in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy final at Wembley on Sunday saw 73,476 through the turnstiles, generating about £2m for a match between two clubs from the third tier of the domestic game – figures that would not be seen anywhere else in the world. If England 2018 does not prevail, surely the only reason can be the agonising public squabbling between the game's dysfunctional vested interests. Bottom line for Foster Pity poor Ben Foster. Having humiliatingly been dumped by Manchester United and England after some erratic displays he has now become the object of his team-mates' ridicule. The goalkeeper, left, flew to Munich yesterday with a sticker on his back bearing the legend "I love ass" – hardly the tonic a man whose confidence has reached such a low ebb this season needs. FA asks Burnley and Blackburn for accounts of derby crowd trouble • FA begins investigation into east Lancashire derby violence • Lancashire Police confirm 42 arrests from fans of both clubs http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/mar/29/fa-blackburn-burnley-crowd-trouble (1) Tweet this (5) Andy Hunter guardian.co.uk, Monday 29 March 2010 20.30 BST Article history A Burnley fan is led away by police during the violence between fans at the east Lancashire derby. Photograph: Carl Recine/Action Images The Football Association has opened its investigation into the violence that marred yesterday's east Lancashire derby by asking Burnley and Blackburn Rovers for their accounts of the ugly scenes at Turf Moor. Lancashire Police have confirmed they arrested 42 supporters of both clubs after trouble flared between rival fans inside the stadium and objects were thrown at the referee Mike Dean and several players. Dean was targeted by what is believed to have been a coin following his decision to award a contentious penalty to Blackburn while a bottle was thrown at the Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen before kick-off. Two Rovers players, David Dunn and Christopher Samba, were also pelted with coins as they headed to the post-match interview area. Blackburn supporters ripped out approximately 150 seats and wrecked toilets in the away section at Turf Moor and there were outbreaks of violence in Burnley town centre after the home side's 1-0 defeat. The FA has yet to receive either Dean's match report or the findings of its own crowd control adviser who attended the derby, but it has contacted both clubs for their observations on the unrest. Burnley are already under investigation after Chris Kirkland, the Wigan Athletic goalkeeper, was struck by a coin thrown from the away end at the DW Stadium the previous weekend. England team will never be run by Premier League insists Lord Triesman • Premier League not more powerful than FA, says Triesman • FA chairman rejects claims that the FA is dysfunctional http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2010/mar/28/england-team-premier-league-triesman Tweet this (9) Press Association guardian.co.uk, Sunday 28 March 2010 10.36 BST Article history Lord Triesman, the FA chairman, has told the Premier League it will never control the England team. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Action Images Lord Triesman has insisted that the Football Association will never hand over control of the England team to the professional game. The FA chairman also rejected claims made in the wake of Ian Watmore's resignation as chief executive that the organisation is "dysfunctional" and denied that the Premier League was now more powerful. In response to a call by the Wigan chairman, Dave Whelan, that the Premier League should run the England team, Triesman told BBC Radio Five Live: "I think Dave should re-read the Fifa statutes and he will find out we are responsible for the game overall in England, that's our mandate. "I have no intention of seeing any of those rights given up and I think we are perfectly capable of doing it. If you look at the success of the England team at the moment under the general management of the FA and outstanding coach Fabio Capello, it's a bit hard to say we are getting it wrong. "It could hardly be a better build-up to a World Cup in our recent experiences. Dave and I are not on the same page, that's spot on." Triesman refused to be drawn on Watmore's relationship with the Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards, which is understood to have been one of the reasons behind his resignation, but said that he did not believe personality clashes had played a part in Watmore's exit. And though he admitted the top flight is strong he insisted it is not all-powerful in the game. "They run an incredibly successful league and that does make them a very powerful force," he said. "Our job is to try to bring together the different interests and get everybody to see the bigger interest overall. "Does that mean we have a tough discussion on occasion, of course it does, but we are all grown- ups and surely we can have a tough discussion without it being the end of the world." Asked if the Premier League are now calling the shots, he replied: "No". Triesman will have been the independent chairman for three years in January and said he would like to continue beyond that, whatever happens in England's bid for the 2018 World Cup, the fate of which will be decided in December. He said: "I think there is still a lot to do and I would hope to do it. Nobody has come to me and said they don't think I should do it. "I intend that we do very well in South Africa and that we do very well in our bid for the 2018 World Cup. I set myself positives not negatives, I don't get on this negative terrain at all."
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