Barwick's inheritance: money, Man United and a Burns offering

Sam Wallace, Football Correspondent, on the task facing the FA's new supremo, who takes over on Monday
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He has a £757m stadium to pay the mortgage on and an inscrutable Swedish football coach to keep happy. The most famous footballers in the country hated his predecessor and somewhere in the East Midlands countryside the rain falls on a once-glorious project to build an academy for the best young English players. The first day at work for Brian Barwick, new Football Association chief executive, should be one to remember.

He has a £757m stadium to pay the mortgage on and an inscrutable Swedish football coach to keep happy. The most famous footballers in the country hated his predecessor and somewhere in the East Midlands countryside the rain falls on a once-glorious project to build an academy for the best young English players. The first day at work for Brian Barwick, new Football Association chief executive, should be one to remember.

On Monday, the genial 50-year-old former controller of sport at ITV will head for Soho Square to take over a venerable, 142-year-old institution that needs to define its role, and its authority, among the millionaire clubs that dominate English football. Barwick has a reputation as a thoroughly likeable man and an astute operator who commands loyalty in those who have worked for him. He is a Liverpudlian who soared through the ranks in television sport. And he will need all those skills and contacts to make the FA relevant beyond the David Beckham generation.

Barwick fought hard to get the job vacated by Mark Palios's chaotic resignation in August. He embarked on a grand tour of the country's leading powers in football politics, visiting the chairmen and chief executives of the top clubs to sell his vision of a modern FA. Yet it was the professional game representatives on the FA board who ultimately opposed his appointment. If the FA is to survive under Barwick, it must be a power among the clubs, but also their ally. And while the national team must be successful, the clubs will not allow it to do so at the expense of the fitness, and commercial value, of their players.

THE CHALLENGES

The Burns Review

Barwick's first concern will be the recommendations in Lord Burns' independent structural review of the FA around June. The FA board was split on whether to even appoint Barwick before the review with those from the professional game - including Bolton's Phil Gartside, Southampton's Rupert Lowe and Ipswich's David Sheepshanks - in favour of an interim replacement or delaying the decision until the summer.

Eventually, the support of the Arsenal vice-chairman, David Dein, for the board's amateur representatives saw Barwick appointed. The review could entirely re-define the FA's remit, and that of its chief executive. But equally it could take the pressure off Barwick for some of the really big decisions. For instance, the planned National Football Centre at Byrkley Park near Burton-upon-Trent has already cost £12m but is now unaffordable to the FA. If Burns makes the recommendation to scrap it, that saves Barwick making an unpopular decision.

Manchester United

Any chief executive whose appointment was supported by David Dein was never guaranteed to be best friends with Sir Alex Ferguson. However, Barwick, a loyal Liverpool fan, had his cover blown in The Independent when columnist Greg Dyke, the former BBC director general, alleged last month that the new chief executive "hates United and all they stand for". Although Barwick is understood to have a good relationship with United chief executive David Gill, any perceived bias against the club will be seized upon by Ferguson.

Wembley

The entire costs of the stadium, which is due to open in time for next year's FA Cup final, is £757m, of which the FA will owe around £426m. That's quite a mortgage considering that the stadium is also set to be the FA's official headquarters. The financial success of Wembley, as laid out by Patrick Carter's report, is based upon 18,000 of the 90,000 seats being sold under the corporate Club Wembley scheme. So far a third have gone. They have 16 months to sell the rest.

Sven Goran Eriksson and the England team

With qualification for the 2006 World Cup progressing smoothly, the last thing Barwick wants in his first 12 months in charge is to have to hunt for a new England coach. He has Eriksson contracted until after the 2008 European Championship, although he will probably assume that the Swede will return to club football after the 2006 tournament in Germany.

He will be mindful that Palios's relationship broke down first with the players over Rio Ferdinand's missed drugs test in 2003, and then with Eriksson when the former chief executive tried to make the coach his fall guy over the Faria Alam scandal. Barwick needs to be tough on discipline but he also needs the co-operation of the players, and their success at major tournaments, to make the England team attractive to broadcasters and sponsors.

The clubs are wary of big commercial deals, sold on the back of the England players, which they believe cut across their own marketing opportunities. The perennial question of whether the FA should cover players' pay while they are on international service is also a measure Barwick will have to oppose.

The Finances

Negotiating television deals will be Barwick's strong suit and he has been left in a good position by Palios. The FA is still in the first season of a four-year deal worth around £300m with BSkyB and the BBC for England matches and the FA Cup. It had to come down £100m from the previous contract, but Barwick will have the industry contacts to pitch the next deal at the right level. The FA's five sponsorship "partners" have deals that run out around the end of the next World Cup and Barwick may want to consider whether McDonald's and Pepsi are suitable allies in an age of government anti-obesity programmes.

The FA structure

It is a tired old complaint, but why on earth do Oxbridge and the RAF get a seat on the FA 92-man council? It is hardly the sleek management model for the new millennium but if Barwick is to try to change that then he will have to beware of the Adam Crozier legacy. He was accused of adopting a "presidential style" that offended the old blazers' brigade. Those who serve grassroots football deserve respect - less so the Duke of York, the FA president. Apparently no one would mind if he was moved on.

A right-hand man

Barwick's appointment began gossip that he might appoint a former colleague to handle the media, such as Ray Stubbs, the presenter he knew from his time at the BBC. However, Barwick is well aware that he inherits a highly respected media relations man in Adrian Bevington. There have been suggestions that he will appoint a director of public affairs to make sure that the FA's voice is heard within Uefa, European football's governing body, as well as at government level and in Brussels.

Video technology

Some of the Premiership's most influential managers have called for video technology following the Pedro Mendes goal for Tottenham at Old Trafford this month that crossed the line but was not given. Equally, Barwick might want to tinker with the FA's new fast-track disciplinary process which achieved quick results but does not allow clubs to make a representation in person.

Agents

The sharp practice of certain agents has been the dirty little secret of English football for some time. For the first time in a while, however, this looks like a campaign the FA could win - at least they would have the backing of Manchester United in any call to disclose agents' fees.

Whoever he chooses to fight, Barwick will have to pick his battles carefully.

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