Dear Graham Kelly

As chief executive of the FA, you could revive the reputations of two national institutions by allowing Prince William and Prince Harry to presid e over the Cup Final
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
Incompetence, injustice, sleaze and scandal. Congratulations on the wonderful image of English football this year. As caretaker of its reputation, the Football Association has shown itself helpless or worse under the bombardment of rotten publicit y.

It is time that you gave us a good story about the game. With this season's FA Cup you have the chance to do so and to give us a good story about a national institution in an even worse state of distress than your own - the Royal Family.

You have not yet decided which members of the Royal Family to invite to present the FA Cup. May I suggest Prince William and Prince Harry?

According to newspaper reports, Prince William is a soccer-mad 12-year-old - like thousands of others. The sight of the boy princes presiding over the Cup Final would add a new chapter of drama and romance to Wembley. William and his brother would be symbols of Britain's sporting future. They would connect English football with its hope of renewal. Their appearance might even inspire the teams to higher standards of skill and sportsmanship, and I doubt if it would leave a dry eye in the stands or in front of any television set.

This Christmas, six-year-old Princess Beatrice was taken shooting by her father, and Prince William shot unaided for the first time, bagging several pheasants. Would it not be better to involve the Princes in a sport that we know they like and which connects them more readily with the rest of us?

The senior royals have neglected football in recent years. It would be an excellent thing if the next royal generation showed itself actively interested in Britain's biggest spectator sport. (It would also be nice to see them at a cricket match next summer, particularly at the Oval, whose tenant, Surrey, is in dispute with the Oval's landlord - who happens to be the Princes' father.)

The boys have had a rough time in recent years. They deserve a happy day and an ego boost. Inviting them to Wembley in their own right, not as an appendage of either parent, would give them a healthy sense of identity and independence and perhaps some confidence in their future. (Giving them extra tickets for friends would also make them the most popular boys in the school - an advantage that their father seems not to have had.)

They would not have to make a speech, just shake hands with the teams and officials and hand over the trophy and medals - though they might enjoy setting a precedent as the first royals to join the pre-match kick-around with both teams.

By inviting the young princes to Wembley the Football Association has the chance to do something creative for football and the nation. This is one story that would not leave fans as sick as parrots and would put two of them over the moon.