What is the FA doing for grassroots football?
Not enough, says local team
The club I run is desperately short of funds, but the FA only ever contacts us to send bills, says
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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
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
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
• 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
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guardian.co.uk, Thursday 19 August 2010 18.24 BST
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
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
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
The FA should learn from English cricket before insisting that Fabio Capello's successor should
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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
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
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
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
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The Guardian, Thursday 29 July 2010
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
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guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 21 July 2010 20.53 BST
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
"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
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Andy Hunter in Philadelphia
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 20 July 2010 23.00 BST
Sir Alex Ferguson believes
Wayne Rooney will become a 'complete' player despite his disappointing World Cup. Photograph: Kamil
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
"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
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
Fabio Capello and FA ponder legal action as
website saga rumbles on
• Capello Index fiasco goes into fifth day
• Negotiations between parties remain ongoing
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guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 20 July 2010 21.54 BST
The FA has been assured
that Fabio Capello does not want his name associated with the Capello Index website. Photograph: Paul
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
"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
"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
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guardian.co.uk, Monday 19 July 2010 23.25 BST
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
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
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
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
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guardian.co.uk, Thursday 15 July 2010 23.07 BST
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
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
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
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The Guardian, Thursday 15 July 2010
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
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'
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guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 6 July 2010 14.39 BST
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
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Dominic Fifield in Cape Town and Jill Treanor
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 4 July 2010 23.01 BST
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
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
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
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
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
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
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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
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
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
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
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
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
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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.
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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
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.
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.
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
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
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Owen Gibson in Bloemfontein
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 27 June 2010 22.58 BST
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
"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
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
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
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
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Owen Gibson in Cape Town
The Guardian, Monday 21 June 2010
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
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
"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
Tweet this (8)
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
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
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
Tweet this (11)
guardian.co.uk, Friday 28 May 2010 20.53 BST
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
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
Tweet this (9)
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 27 May 2010 16.49 BST
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
Tweet this (21)
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
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
Tweet this (5)
o Peter Preston
o The Observer, Sunday 23 May 2010
o Article history
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
Tweet this (2)
guardian.co.uk, Friday 21 May 2010 00.29 BST
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
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
Tweet this (10)
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 20 May 2010 08.32 BST
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
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
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
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
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'
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
Tweet this (10)
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
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
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
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
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'
Tweet this (11)
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 19 May 2010 22.44 BST
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
• Acting chief executive brings commercial team in-house
• New sponsorship deals to be sealed shortly
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The Guardian, Wednesday 19 May 2010
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
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
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
Now Horne has promoted the head of broadcast, Stuart Turner, to run the commercial
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
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
Tweet this (6)
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
Lord Sugar keen to replace Lord Triesman as
• Former Tottenham chairman interested in reforming FA
• 'I would certainly be interested,' says Apprentice star
Tweet this (12)
guardian.co.uk, Monday 17 May 2010 09.43 BST
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
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
Tweet this (11)
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
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
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
Tweet this (11)
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 16 May 2010 21.42 BST
David Sheepshanks, the
former chairman of Ipswich Town, is one of the FA's new co-chairmen. Photograph: Graham Turner for
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
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
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
Tweet this (23)
Dan Milmo and Owen Gibson
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 5 May 2010 20.10 BST
National Express has
decided to end their major sponsorship deal with the FA after a company reshuffle. Photograph:
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
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
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
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
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guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 4 May 2010 13.42 BST
Riot police attempt to
keep fans apart after Sheffield Wednesday were relegated on Sunday. Photograph: Craig Brough/Action
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
"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
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guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 28 April 2010 20.38 BST
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
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
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
• FA and Premier League will not consider late application
• Decision means seventh-placed Premier League team qualifies
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guardian.co.uk, Thursday 22 April 2010 12.11 BST
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
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
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guardian.co.uk, Monday 19 April 2010 00.10 BST
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
"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
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
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The Guardian, Tuesday 30 March 2010
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
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
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
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
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guardian.co.uk, Monday 29 March 2010 20.30 BST
A Burnley fan is led away
by police during the violence between fans at the east Lancashire derby. Photograph: Carl Recine/Action
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
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
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
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
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guardian.co.uk, Sunday 28 March 2010 10.36 BST
Lord Triesman, the FA
chairman, has told the Premier League it will never control the England team. Photograph: Andrew
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
"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 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."