Football / The England Succession: Twelve old men ripe for some new blood: What is the FA's international committee and what exactly do its members do? Ian Ridley investigates

Click to follow
The Independent Online
TWELVE angry men? Twelve just men? Twelve good men and true? Who and what are those who form the Football Association's international committee, their duty, in theory at least, to agree on the next England manager for the full 90-member FA Council to rubber-stamp?

The group, which meets today at Lancaster Gate, comprises 12 old men aged from 57 to 85, with an average of almost 69. It is just one of several criticisms - out of touch, unprofessional - of an organisation which many agree needs restructuring.

Actually, its role in the biggest decision facing the English game is limited, even if that of its chairman, Peter Swales, is considerable. In reality he, the chairman of the FA, Sir Bert Millichip, the FA's chief executive, Graham Kelly, and a so far unnamed fourth man, will present the committee with a name - or names.

The committee is more of an administrative and ambassadorial body, looking after the minutiae of running the national teams at all levels and representing the FA abroad. Today's meeting, one of around eight a year, has been scheduled for a while, ostensibly to hear the manager's report after the match against San Marino, though that now is rendered superfluous.

'It may get a mention,' said Gordon McKeag, of a possible discussion on Graham Taylor's successor(s). 'But it will be a small subcommittee who will make the recommendation, if not the appointment. It would not be feasible for a committee of 12.'

McKeag is an international committee member, president of the Football League, a former chairman of Newcastle United and, at 66, hinted at as a future FA chairman.

Though it may have more spice than usual, today's meeting should offer Swales some respite after his resignation yesterday as chairman of Manchester City, even if he has said that he could be ousted from his chairmanship, decided annually at the FA's summer meeting. 'I have never known in any committee somebody being asked to stand down,' McKeag said. 'If he resigns, that is another matter.' Swales has said that he will not be doing so.

The meeting is likely to contain the routine of reports and administrative concerns from recent international matches at all levels. No doubt the rota of committee members for overseas matches will crop up; two or three for full internationals, one or two for others.

'If you are in Albania or Latvia and the hotel is next to a brothel or an all-night dance hall, the member of the international committee would be the person who would make representations,' McKeag said, explaining the function.

Ray Kiddell, secretary of the Norfolk FA and at 57 the youngest member of the committee, insisted that the members are adequately qualified. 'The role is overseeing when you are abroad, and it doesn't take a professional to do that.' The business of selecting and running teams is left to professionals, he says. 'Like a good board of directors of a club, you appoint a manager and leave him to get on with the job.'

McKeag added: 'One has got to keep up to date and a councillor has to retain full faculties, energy and drive because of the administrative duties he has to perform, but it is always difficult to write somebody off at a given age.' He also believes that the committee is professional and in touch since it contains six current or former club chairmen.

Bobby Charlton, whom many within the game have championed as ideal material for a rationalised international committee with more teeth, has often been a critic of the FA's structure and remains so, even if more moderate currently while awaiting the outcome of a commission investigating the subject.

'I don't want to start criticising any plans they might have, but I think they themselves have said they need streamlining,' he said. 'It needs younger, more professional input. . .People who don't have that amount of time to spare should not be discounted.'

He would, he says, be keen to serve. 'I am an honorary member of the FA and although they have not used me in that capacity, they might do in the future. I would be willing to help on a committee that was productive. . .and relevant.'

Whether today's committee meeting is productive or relevant is open to question. It may just prove to be the first brick in what is proving, with so many potential England managers wary of the job and the edifice that is the Football Association, a building in need of some redesign.