The lead speaker at the Leaders in Football Conference at Stamford Bridge yesterday was David Bernstein, the chairman of the Football Association, who addressed an number of issues:
Bernstein on Capello
Reports yesterday suggested some FA powerbrokers were of the view that should England prosper at Euro 2012, reaching the semi-finals or beyond, Fabio Capello should be kept on for the 2014 World Cup. Bernstein said this would not happen. “The position is very clear. He is our manager until the end of the European Championships. That is it.” Bernstein added there had been no discussion over a replacement. “It is not something on our agenda at the moment. We are completely behind Fabio. You cannot be half-pregnant with these things.”
Bernstein on the FA
Bernstein admitted the FA had mishandled “the big issues that matter to the public.” He explained: We have had too many changes of chairman and chief executive; the national team has been generally disappointing, especially at last summer's World Cup; and we had a very disappointing World Cup bid.”
Looking ahead he said he believed in the value of independent input [a reference to the impending appointment of independent non-executive directors to the FA Board]; in clear accountability and transparency; and in increased diversity in senior positions.”
He said this to an audience which was overwhelming, more than 90 per cent, male and white. “I would love to have a woman on the FA Board, it is finding the right woman,” he added. This diversity extended to promoting more ex-footballers, like Trevor Brooking and gareth Southgate who work in the technical development area, to FA positions. Maybe it is a cultural issue but we have no [Uefa president Michel] Platini, no [Bayern Munich CEO and European Club Association acting chairman Karl-Heinz] Rummenigge,” said Bernstein.
Bernstein on the FA Cup
Bernstein said it was important to maintain the fundamental features so fixtures like Exeter City v Manchester United could occur. He said “Some Mickey Mouse ideas would reduce the competition's credibility,” which may be a reference to the prospect of seeding, regional rounds and midweek rounds.
Bernstein on Wembley
Wembley is now making an £40-50m operating profit and it would be breaking even in 2014-15 even after debt payments and depreciation was taken into account. Then it could start 'subsidising the game' rather than the other way around. This could be of considerable given he noted that “cuts in the provision of sports facilities by local authorities meant tough challenges”.
Bernstein on Fifa
Bernstein revealed that Uefa had held an emergency meeting before he made his speech at the Fifa Congress in June in which he castigated the world governing bodies governance, and asked him not to make the speech. He made it and did not regret doing so “It was a transparent and honest opinion clearly stated. I believe we are more respected because of it.” Julio Grondona, the Fifa vice-president and head of the Argentine FA, promptly took to the stage to decry the English as 'pirates and liars'. Bernstein revealed Grondona has since written to the FA to apologise for “his unacceptable comments.”
Fifa are holding an Executive committee meeting later this month to discuss reform but Bernstein said of the prospect of real change “don't hold your breath”. He revealed a recent Uefa meeting in Cyprus expressed “their disappointment at the lack of progress.”
Bernstein on Uefa
Michel Platini, the Uefa president, was “not anti-English but in many ways was pro-English ,” said Bernstein. He added: “We can't be the world's policeman, it is vital we work with Uefa.
Bernstein on player release
For years England have fielded shadow teams at international age-group tournaments due to clubs refusing to release players. The recent U-20 World Cup in Colombia was an obvious example with players like Josh McEachran sitting on the bench at Chelsea when they could have been playing. Fifa have made it clear they are unhappy at the perceived snub. Bernstein, somewhat optimistically, said the way forward was through “dialogue, common sense and goodwill. I hope managers will embrace the benefits playing for England brings to their players.”
Bernstein on goalline technology
The FA chairman said: “I think we will get there but there is no enthusiasm in Uefa or Fifa for using technology for anything beyond goalline decisions. FA general secretary predicted it would arrive in 2013-14.