FA admit mistakes over Fabio Capello contract

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The Independent Football

Football Association general secretary Alex Horne today revealed former chairman Lord Triesman failed to discuss changes to Fabio Capello's contract as England manager with the organisation's whole board.

The FA controversially removed an exit clause in Capello's four-year deal shortly before last year's World Cup, a decision Horne admitted should have been referred to the board.

Instead, it was taken by a handful of executives, including Lord Triesman, who was forced to resign as independent chairman soon after following an unrelated tabloid sting.

Horne, who was acting chief executive at the time, told a Department of Culture Media and Sport committee inquiry into football governance: "I'll hold my hands up on behalf of David Triesman and say, in hindsight, it was a whole board decision and should have gone to the whole board.

"It did not go to the whole board."

Horne refused to identify the other executives involved in the decision but admitted at least some of them were still at the FA.

"I'm not comfortable sitting here naming four or five people," he said.

"The decision has been reviewed internally and we hold our hands up to a corporate governance mistake.

"David was the senior member involved as chairman of the association and clearly felt he had the authority to make that commitment.

"It was only after he left that the board questioned the decision."

Lord Triesman's successor, David Bernstein, vowed the situation would never be allowed to arise again.

"While I'm chairman, it won't happen again," he told the same inquiry.

"I would ensure that proper governance is in place for those things."

Despite acknowledging the process of amending Capello's contract was inappropriate, Horne insisted those involved came to the right decision, despite England's dismal World Cup display.

"There was a contract through to 2012 for four years," he said.

"Within that contract was a clause allowing either party to terminate for an amount of liquidated damages.

"We were coming under a lot of pressure in the run-up to the World Cup for certainty over whether Fabio was staying or not.

"There was speculation about clubs coming in for Fabio."

He added: "Having qualified top of the group very comfortably, facing that uncertainty going into the tournament, it was exactly the right thing to do."

Capello has rarely been out of the headlines since, after becoming embroiled in a succession of arguments.

The latest involved the likelihood of mass changes to his team for tonight's friendly with Ghana at Wembley.

Capello has released five key men, including skipper John Terry, Chelsea team-mate Frank Lampard and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, leading to criticism from, amongst others, former Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, who feel a capacity 90,000 crowd are being let down.

"The fans are not being short-changed," said Bernstein.

"The manager has to have the say in these matters. No one has forced him to send players back and we are fully supportive of him doing that.

"He picked a very strong squad for the two matches and every member is a top-class player.

"He has to balance the issues, which include fatigue and his relationship with the other managers.

"The team he puts out tonight may lack one or two glamour names but he wants to see how the others perform on a big occasion, in front of a big crowd, so he knows what to do in competitive matches later on."

Capello has already won three out of four qualifying games this season, allowing Bernstein to offer wholehearted backing to the Italian.

"In 18 competitive matches, Fabio Capello has won 13, drawn three and lost two, one of which was a dead-rubber," he said.

"Unfortunately the other was in a very important match at the World Cup.

"But we are top of our Euro 2012 qualifying group and hopefully we will stay there."

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