English Premiership

Former FA chiefs hit out at governing body

2016-12-12 15:59
Greg Dyke (AFP)

London - Five former English Football Association bosses have hit out at the governing body and urged the British government to reform an "out of balance" organisation filled with "elderly white men".

David Bernstein, David Davies, Greg Dyke, Alex Horne and David Triesman grouped together to write to Damian Collins, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

They say the "well-meaning individuals" in charge of the FA are "collectively unrepresentative of English society" and "under-qualified" to deal with modern football.

The group also called for legislation to be passed, blaming the FA's "inability to reform and modernise in a fast-changing world".

The letter said the FA lacks independence and makes decisions based on vested interests due to a lack of checks and balances.

It also said the FA was resistant to change and that parliament needs to step in.

The letter concluded: "Football is a much-loved sport enjoyed by millions, and it has genuine cultural significance in the country which first codified what is now a global sport.

"A focused intervention can undoubtedly build on these attributes, as has been recognised in many past inquiries and reports. It would give millions of players and fans confidence they will no longer be marginal to the future of their sport.

"It may well move us to redressing the woeful lack of English players or managers and the embarrassing failures of our national team for the past 50 years."

Responding to the letter, Collins wrote: "The select committee shares your concern that the current structure of the FA makes it impossible for it to reform itself.

"As such, there is currently no effective governing body for football in England that is capable of responding to the challenges that face the modern game."

Collins said the committee is working to prepare a draft Bill which would reform the structure of the FA.

He also said the committee would ask for a debate in the House of Commons calling for a vote of no confidence in the FA.

"We cannot afford to wait any longer," he said.

A statement from the FA in response to the letter to Collins read: "The FA is currently working on governance reforms to adhere to Sport England and UK Sport's Governance Code for Sport which was released in October this year.

However, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said football must be allowed to get its own house in order without government interference because sport and politics should not mix.

"Football and politics should not deal together. Football is a very special activity that should be ruled by football people," he said.

"Our target is to be adult enough to rule our own activity."

Pressed on whether the government should step in to address the failure of the England national team and the current sexual abuse scandal, Wenger said: "No, no, because when you look at the history of sport being linked with politics, it was not always for the benefit of sport.

"I don't know what their frustration is. What we want is that the values of our sport are respected.

"I don't see that football is in a crisis in this country."

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