Football: FA to offer Hoddle new contract

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The Independent Online
GLENN HODDLE will be offered another chance to fulfil his perceived destiny and lead England to World Cup glory - but only on the Football Association's terms.

That was the leading conclusion from yesterday's meeting between the England coach and the FA's international committee at Lancaster Gate. A rap over the knuckles for Paul Ince apart, it was also the only conclusion as the 14-man committee - average age 67 - followed FA custom and passed the buck. Discussion of Hoddle's infamous World Cup diary and his dependence on the faith-healer, Eileen Drewery, was devolved to a sub-committee.

This heavyweight six-man body will begin formulating the FA's approach to Hoddle before the end of the month, but direct negotiations are not expected to start until after the European Championship qualifiers against Bulgaria on 10 October and Luxembourg on 14 October.

The FA expects Uefa to extend Ince's ban to both those games after his dismissal in Sweden earlier this month but is not intending any pre-emptive action. Ince will be dealt with on 8 October, unless Uefa accedes to the FA's request for an earlier hearing.

The committee did make it clear to Hoddle that it did not expect a repeat of the V-sign Ince made after his dismissal, and he was to pass the message to the Liverpool midfielder. "Discipline was a major concern," one of those present said. "It was made clear that Ince's behaviour was not acceptable."

Noel White, a Liverpool director and chairman of the international committee, said "an overwhelming majority backed Glenn Hoddle. There are no major problems as far as I am concerned."

There are clearly some dissenters though, possibly as many as four, and some areas of concern will be discussed by the sub-committee. It is anticipated the proposed new contract, which would be a considerable increase on Hoddle's present pounds 250,000-a-year salary, may include a clause restricting him from writing books during his tenure or insisting they be passed by the committee before publication. Hoddle is also likely to be told that, while he can continue using the services of Drewery, it would be helpful if her profile was lower.

Not discussed, but likely to come up when the group meet Hoddle, is his poor relationship with the media. But moves are afoot to improve a situation which does not help the media, Hoddle, or an FA always mindful that, sooner or later, it will have to find a successor.

Whether after the European Championship, when his current deal expires, the next World Cup, or the next match, depends on Hoddle, who may not want to extend or even finish his contract. The bottom line, as ever, is results. After losing three of the last four matches, they need to be improved.

THE KINGMAKERS

FA INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE

Noel White (chairman), age 68, Liverpool; David Richards (vice-chairman), 53, Sheffield Wednesday; Ray Berridge, 66, Bedford FA; John Davey, 74, Sussex FA; David Dein, 54, Arsenal; Doug Ellis*, 74, Aston Villa; Frank Hannah, 73, Manchester FA; Ray Kiddell, 73, Norfolk FA; Sir Bert Millichip, 84, former FA chairman; David Sheepshanks, 45, Ipswich Town and Football League; Ian Stott, 64, Oldham; Barry Taylor, 56, Barnsley; Chris Willcox, 75, Gloucestershire FA; Jack Wiseman, 81, Birmingham City.

*absent yesterday

HODDLE CONTRACT GROUP

Graham Kelly, FA chief executive; Keith Wiseman, FA chairman and Southampton; Geoff Thompson, FA vice-chairman and Sheffield and Hallamshire FA; White, Richards, Sheepshanks.

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