Football: Stott lobbies for FA chairmanship

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The Independent Online
AS THE debate continues over who will become the new Football Association chairman, Ian Stott believes he could be the compromise candidate.

The former Oldham Athletic chairman believes he may have the "middle- of-the-road" appeal to win confidence in all camps. Stott, who this week resigned as chairman of the Latics, has become a career football administrator after selling up his business empire, which included interests in holiday homes and night-clubs.

After almost 14 years as a councillor in the corridors of power at the FA, Stott knows a bit about survival and appeasement. He wants change at the FA, he wants it streamlined, but he still wants to retain its traditions. His 17 years as chairman of Oldham, in which he oversaw their rise to the Premiership under Joe Royle's management, has earned him friends and admirers at every level of the game.

However, Stott stood down as Oldham's chairman on Monday. He is now vice- chairman at Boundary Park under David Brierley, following an uproar over reports that Stott was behind a proposed merger of Oldham, Rochdale and Bury.

Stott said that comments he had made had been taken out of context and he had no option but to resign. That decision leaves him with more time to lobby for the top FA post.

Stott said: "Now is the time to attack the situation at the FA. I would like to think that I would appeal to all sides. Now is the time for discussion.

"I don't want this to look like a full-blown election campaign. I'm not going flat out to be chairman, but I am certainly looking to become more involved at that level."

The 64-year-old, whose family used to be mill owners around Oldham, said: "I am interested in a position on the FA that would give me more involvement, but what that is at the moment I am not sure."

Stott does not have the outspoken approach of another candidate, Ken Bates, but he would want change. He said: "Maybe now is the right time to address the situation again."

Following Keith Wiseman's protracted departure, Stott has begun to put himself forward as a candidate for the middle ground. He said: "There was a time when it looked like there would be an immediate election to find a new chairman, but that won't happen now until the summer, so there is no great urgency on that front at the moment. It will now be in June and that gives everyone a lot more time for discussion.

"There are obvious candidates, Geoff Thompson, who is now in charge, and David Sheepshanks, who I know well from the Football League, but he has only been an FA Councillor for a year or so.

"Of course, the chairman is elected every year, which I have always felt is a bit daft. It also means it is hard to get rid of someone mid-term."

Stott, who lives in the Cheshire stockbroker belt in Wilmslow, knows all about trying and failing to achieve change within the FA. He said: "Ten years ago I was involved in submitting plans for restructuring, and I recall walking out of the meeting in Plymouth because of the pettiness and arguing.

"We were looking to cut the number of councillors, to have a board of directors drawn from the committees who would have the power to decide things, and to have an age limit as well. There are things we should be addressing again, there must be change but you must always be wary of hurting peoples' feelings. You are asking people to vote away their positions, but these things have to be looked at.

"I'm looking for a happy medium, the middle ground. But we have to be able to speed up decision-making and have an elected body of, say, eight people on a board to run things."

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