FOOTBALL: FA's new leader has the power - but he must also consult

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The Independent Online
THE FOOTBALL Association caused quite a stir after its extraordinary general meeting last week by announcing that the incoming chief executive, Adam Crozier, would have the power to hire and fire the England national coach.

The situation has not really changed an awful lot. During my 10 years as chief executive at Lancaster Gate I had the unhappy task of instigating searches for three England coaches.

I had to work with a small group of senior Council members in much the same way as Crozier will be expected to consult the new FA board of directors, which has taken responsibility for business affairs from the Council, which retains authority over purely footballing matters such as discipline, referees, competitions and players' registrations.

I was always happy with the eventual outcome. Graham Taylor's impressive track record with Lincoln City, Watford and Aston Villa made him a clear choice for the selection group. After I had completed my consultations by speaking to the Professional Footballers' Association chief executive, Gordon Taylor, and the FA's director of coaching, Charles Hughes, Taylor was duly appointed.

Certain sections of the press, though, attached a bit of baggage to him by virtue of his perceived allegiance to Hughes' direct-play philosophy. Taylor himself was at pains to distance himself from Hughes by making clear he would have little to do with the international youth teams which fell under the authority of the director of coaching.

When the next vacancy arose, I brought in the former England captain and Leeds manager, Jimmy Armfield, to act as a conduit between the professionals in the game and the decision-makers at Lancaster Gate. Terry Venables was the overwhelming choice, though reservations about his off-field activities - the same concerns which later led Council members to speak publicly about their worries and caused Venables to lose confidence in his employers - meant the committee was not unanimous.

Glenn Hoddle was the agreed choice of the working group after Martin Edwards refused us permission to interview Alex Ferguson.

So the procedure may not change very much when Kevin Keegan's tenure comes to an end. However, it will be interesting to learn whether Crozier consults his director of football, another new position envisaged in the second phase of the FA's restructuring process in the New Year.

The director of football will be responsible for all technical, coaching and international team matters, an increase in the current powers of the technical director, Howard Wilkinson.

The director of football will sit on another new board at the Football Association, an operating board, which is designed firstly to liaise between myriad committees, which are currently under review, and the main board, and secondly to improve relations between the key executives of the FA, the FA Premier League and the Football League.

Alongside the director of football on the operating board will be the chief executive of the FA Premier League (Richard Scudamore), the chief executive of the Football League in succession to Scudamore, the director of finance and business strategy (Michael Cunnah) and the director of services (Nic Coward). Another new appointment to this board will be the director of "the national game" - all football below the Football League. He will be responsible for recommending the distribution of the grant of pounds 12m per year which the Premier League will pay in return for a golden share in the FA, which will enable it to block any FA rule change which affects the professional game.

Crozier will hold a non-voting position on the new main board, where six votes will go to the Premier League and the Football League and six votes to the national game. The Nationwide Conference is unhappy about being included "below the line" in the new national game structure. It has long campaigned for a seat on the FA Council.

The new chief executive will not be short of work. In his first five years he will have the targets of bedding in the new structures, defining a new commercial strategy, integrating the Wembley National Stadium company into the FA, improving the financial regulation of the game and achieving international success for club and national teams. He will be expected to act as a role model for FA employees by demonstrating the highest standards of professionalism, integrity and probity. If he can increase the negligible representation of ethnic minorities and women on the governing body, he will really improve the FA's image.