Football: FA face new cash for votes questions

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The Independent Online
THE CRISIS within the Football Association intensified last night as Sir Bert Millichip said the organisation needed a "massive over-haul" and fresh controversy broke over their efforts to win crucial votes for the bid to stage the World Cup in 2006.

As Sir Bert made his calls for change it was reported that Peter Withe, the coach of the Thailand national side, was having his pounds 50,000 in salary and expenses paid from a fund set up to promote the bid. Thailand have one of the 24 crucial votes on the all-important Fifa executive committee.

Withe, the 47-year-old former England and Aston Villa striker, is on a six-month contract with the Thai FA but people associated with the campaign denied any underhand action. The FA's executive director, David Davies, said: "We give aid in the form of resources, kit and coaches to a number of countries in Africa and the Far East. Thailand is receiving coaching support in the form of Peter Withe."

At the same time the news broke members of the 2006 campaign, including Sir Bobby Charlton, were in Thailand to promote their case for staging the 2006 tournament.

Meanwhile, the resignation of the FA chief executive, Graham Kelly, has left a long-term power void which is set to grow next month when the FA chairman, Keith Wiseman, is expected to be forced out of office.

Millichip, Wiseman's predecessor at the FA feels the time is now ripe for the FA to implement the long-overdue changes he failed to introduce during his own years in charge."The structure of the FA needs a massive overhaul. I tried to do that four times during my time in charge but failed," he said. "There is no doubt that the set-up is Victorian. But what has happened should at least speed things up.

"What has happened may make the full council look further than the ends of their noses and realise that an overhaul is needed - not just a cosmetic papering over of the cracks."

Millichip believes that the root of the problem at the FA is the unwieldy and all-powerful full council, and "the fact that you can't make any decisions without the backing of 75 per cent of the 90-odd members". He stops short of advocating the abolition of the full council or sacking its members.

The president of the Football Association of Wales has refused to accept any responsibility for the scandal at Lancaster Gate. John Hughes insists the FAW has done "nothing wrong whatsoever", and says nobody on the council will resign. Hughes also expressed his surprise over comments made by the former Wales manager, Terry Yorath, who said "every member of the FAW should resign, lock, stock and barrel. They have been doing an embarrassing job for years."

Hughes countered: "I don't see why. We accepted the money... for the betterment of football in Wales."

World Cup odyssey, page 25

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