Eriksson backs Crozier in FA struggle

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The Independent Football

The England manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, yesterday spoke out in support of the Football Association's chief executive, Adam Crozier.

While Geoff Thompson, the FA's chairman, was reported to be mulling over whether to back or sack Crozier, Eriksson made it known that he was "very concerned" at the situation and that Crozier's departure would cause him to consider his own position with the national team.

Eriksson, who was appointed by Crozier, is on holiday, but he was sufficiently worried by the campaign to oust Crozier that he conveyed his feelings to his personal manager, Athole Still.

"Sven is very concerned at the possibility of losing the special relationship he has with Adam Crozier," Still said. "The absolute support, both personally and professionally, he has always received from Adam has been a very significant factor in his ongoing commitment to the national team."

Crozier is under pressure following increasing disquiet among members of the FA's executive committee over what they perceive to be his autocratic style of management.

The Premier League is also pushing for a "professional game board" to run the game, which would reduce the FA's role to control of the amateur game, disciplinary matters and the England team.

Crozier is opposed to such weakening of the FA and Thompson, who does not have the authority to dismiss Crozier on his own, must decide whether to back him and take on the Premier League or to oppose him, which could either create a rift or force Crozier's resignation.

The FA's next full council meeting is not until December and there is no formal meeting scheduled between Thompson and Crozier. However, their offices at the FA's Soho headquarters are next door to each other.

In addition, there is a meeting of the FA's international committee today, chaired by the Liverpool director Noel White, at which Crozier will come face to face with some of his opponents from Premiership clubs.

Among those to have spoken out so far are Chelsea chairman Ken Bates, who insists that Crozier has "exceeded his authority" in the role.

The executive board member, David Henson, has also questioned Crozier's management style, although he stressed that he was not calling for him to lose his job.

"There is no doubt that there is a lack of consultation in the way he makes decisions. He has to change his management style and this was made clear to him at last week's board meeting," Henson said. "I think Adam has done a good job for the FA. At the moment, although things can change very quickly in football, I see no problem."

To a certain extent, Crozier could be considered as a victim of his own success in transforming the FA ­ a non profit-making organisation ­ into a more modern structure, earning himself critics in both the amateur and professional fields en route.

The charge of style over substance has been laid against him, although there is no question that he has dealt effectively with the Wembley saga, Eriksson's appointment and has increased the FA's income for the good of the game at large.

What has proved the recent catalyst for a debate over Crozier's position, however, is the way in which the deal was agreed to give the England players their share of the FA's increased commercial deals.