Burns advocates reduced role for Premier League
Saturday 13 August 2005
Burns, who since January has been compiling his root-and-branch structural review of the game's governing body, published his findings yesterday and challenged those who might be affected to accept the changes.
The board of the FA currently comprises four representatives from Premiership clubs out of 12 members but under Burns' proposals, that number would drop to two.
That will frustrate the Premier League's board members in the FA who would like the process to go the other way in order to take greater control of matters such as the new Wembley Stadium and the England team. Burns' suggestions include the introduction of non-executive independent directors on the board, at the expense of both Premier and Football League members, as well as the possibility of the chairman of the FA being an independent director.
But Burns denied this was about anyone losing out in a race for power. He said: "I don't accept that the Premier League will be special losers here. We all want a successful Premier League but we must accept you need a governing body of football and they cannot be their own governing body.
"I would say you will find they agree with me that we want to see a strong Premier League and a strong FA where people respect its decisions, its authority and the way it conducts the roles of a governing body."
Despite his proposals, the Premier League offered its backing, saying: "The board of the Premier League welcomes the publication of Lord Burns' review. Clearly we will have to take time to discuss its content with our member clubs. We have been impressed with Lord Burns' approach to this matter. Whilst it is improbable that all of us will agree with the review in its entirety, the Premier League [board] will be encouraging its clubs to support the key recommendations."
Burns also suggested that the FA create a semi-autonomous Regulation and Compliance Unit to handle matters such as discipline both on and off the pitch and that this unit show greater openness than ever before, throwing open the possibility of club disputes being aired publicly.
However, Burns' review, which will now be considered by the FA over the coming months, could hit a stumbling block when it comes to voting his measures through, as any changes need a 75 per cent majority. If successful, he said he would like his changes to take effect over the next three years with visible progress from next year.
Burns also received support from Richard Caborn, the Sports Minister, who said: "The FA needs to become a flexible, responsive and more authoritative voice for football fit for the 21st and not the 19th century. I congratulate them for identifying the need to modernise and this report provides the foundation for real progress to be made."
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