Football: Crozier the new power in England

Little-known Scotsman can hire and fire national coach as Football Association launches restructuring programme
THE NEW chief executive of the Football Association, a Scot with no previous experience in football administration, will have the power to hire or fire the England coach as he sees fit, the FA announced yesterday.

Adam Crozier, who will become Kevin Keegan's immediate superior when he takes up his new job at Lancaster Gate in the new year, will still consult a sub-committee of leading FA figures before making a dismissal or appointment, but will assume ultimate responsibility for hiring and firing the national coach.

In the past, such decisions about the coach were made by the FA's international committee but the FA now wants one man to have the power to make a judgement. It is understood that the FA hopes such a move will eliminate the kind of procrastination that surrounded the departure of Keegan's predecessor, Glenn Hoddle, and the appointment of Keegan himself.

Yesterday's news came almost exactly a year after the enforced resignation of the former chief executive, Graham Kelly, and a vote of no confidence in the then chairman, Keith Wiseman, following the "cash-for-votes" affair involving grants to the FA of Wales.

The clarification of the chief executive's new powers forms part of the FA's restructuring programme, which has been undertaken since the election of the new chairman, Geoff Thompson, in the summer.

The reform programme had already been agreed by the 92-member FA Council before yesterday's endorsement by the FA's shareholders. Outlining some of the details of the reforms, the FA confirmed that three FA committees - executive, finance and commercial - have been officially abolished. Major commercial and business decisions affecting the game will in future be taken by a new board of directors, with 14 members. They will include two Football League representatives (David Sheepshanks of Ipswich and Peter Heard of Colchester) and four from the Premier League - likely to be Arsenal's David Dein, Chelsea's Ken Bates, Leeds' Peter Ridsdale and Sheffield Wednesday's Dave Richards.

There will also be six representatives from what the FA is now calling the "national game" (the world of non-professional football) and they will all be elected on 10 January.

The FA's chairman and chief executive will be non-voting members, ensuring that a clear majority will be needed to make changes and that the professional game cannot dominate by numbers alone in their monthly meetings.

The FA council, often criticised as an unwieldy body incapable of quick decisions, will not be abolished but will effectively become a "second chamber" within the FA, concentrating on rules and discipline. Geoff Thompson, meanwhile, will have to stand for re-election next summer. From now on, the chairman will hold office for a four-year period - on a salary of about pounds 50,000 a year - and will be able to serve a maximum of two terms.

The FA said it is also looking to improve its links with fans' groups such as the Football Supporters' Association, which may include financial support being given to them.

"The changes we have confirmed today will create a truly modern structure for the FA as we move into the 21st Century," Thompson said yesterday.

"We have maintained unity within the game through a difficult period and we believe that the fruits of that will be visible very quickly. We are moving forward with real confidence."

n The decision to move the FA Cup third round forward to December is to be reviewed by the FA next month after poor attendances in last weekend's ties. It appears unlikely that the third round will revert to January next season, however, because of fixture congestion.