Eriksson could quit amid shift in power

England manager may be among future departures after Crozier falls victim to increasing influence of leading club chairmen
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The Independent Football

The prospect of Sven Goran Eriksson following Adam Crozier out of the Football Association's Soho Square headquarters increased last night as it was revealed that the England manager was "devastated" by the chief executive's resignation. Eriksson was appointed by Crozier and has grown close to the Scot after the support he provided during the Ulrika Jonsson scandal.

Earlier this week Athole Still, Eriksson's agent, conveyed his client's support for Crozier. He later insisted Eriksson would not resign if Crozier left. However, given that Eriksson's relations with the clubs could now prove more troublesome, he may yet go. He could decide, after seeing Crozier hunted down by a media pack, to walk away before he suffers a similar fate.

Paul Newman, the FA's media director, said Eriksson was "devastated, very shocked and very saddened" by Crozier's decision. Newman, however, said Eriksson would be staying on. "His mood is reflected among FA staff," he added. "It is extremely sad that a man of that calibre has to resign. It cannot be good news for English football."

The rebuilding of Wembley Stadium may be endangered by Crozier's exit, especially if Paul Barber, Crozier's right-hand man and a successful director of marketing, leaves. The men were prime movers in arranging the finance deal which finally brought the national stadium saga to a conclusion.

The FA chairman, Geoff Thompson, will at least feel that, having acceded to the clubs' bidding, his re-election is secure. Thompson had accepted Crozier's resignation with "great regret and sadness". After praising his impact he added: "Adam's decision is based on two key principles. The three-year change programme he initiated in January 2000 is coming to a natural end. And a difference of opinion over how the game should be run and regulated. It is on this second issue that Adam does not feel he can compromise."

That issue was the formation of a Professional Game Board proposed by Premiership clubs to administer the élite and the Nationwide League. Its operation would leave the professional game largely autonomous of the FA and take a greater share of commercial income either directly or, by altered sponsorship deals, indirectly. This Crozier could not accept.

Dave Hanson, the Devon FA representative and a member of the FA Board, said: "I don't think Adam would compromise on the demands of the Premier League in trying to gain more control over the FA."

Crozier, 38, joined the FA from Saatchi and Saatchi and may now return to industry, though it would not be a surprise if his talents were accommodated within the game. He will certainly be in demand.

The FA is unlikely to rush into choosing a replacement. Coincidentally, one of the leading candidates last time, David Moffett, yesterday agreed to become the Welsh Rugby Union's first group chief executive. Another is Glen Kirton, who masterminded Euro 96 and headed the football department at the now-defunct sports marketing group ISL. The former international Trevor Brooking, given his experience in the media and at Sport England, is an outside contender.

There is one other intriguing prospect. Although Crozier has resigned, he will stay at his post until a successor is found. Might some accommodation be found? At present this is unlikely. Crozier's predecessor, Graham Kelly, said: "It will not be easy to fill his shoes." This is especially the case since talented men may steer clear. Crozier went because he refused to obey the club chairmen. With the FA emasculated, now more than ever they will hold the balance of power in the English game. The ramifications of this potentially conclusive development in the 114-year-old struggle between the professional and amateur wings of the game will be far-reaching. In the long term the game's riches will continue to gravitate towards the wealthy. That, though, has been the case since clubs were allowed to keep gate receipts two decades ago. More significant is that the chairmen are more powerful than the administrators. This will make it harder to bring to book those who abuse their position. Expect to see a job advertisement reading: "Wanted: Chief executive who is prepared to do as he is told."

Crozier's statement

"I am extremely proud to have been asked to lead the FA through a very important and exciting period in its history.

"I have enjoyed and am grateful for the support and co-operation of so many people throughout football at all levels ­ the clubs, their players, the managers, coaches and supporters ­ and in the various organisations, agencies and authorities that work with the FA to develop the game in this country.

"I have also benefited from the fantastic support and professionalism of my staff and colleagues at the FA over the past three years.

"I'm extremely grateful to all of them for their hard work and commitment during a period of great change and for achieving such outstanding results.

"It will be difficult for me to leave a job that I have enjoyed so much and which has given me so much satisfaction.

"It has been a privilege to have combined my love of football with my career. I will however leave the FA with a sense of pride in our achievements and satisfaction with the progress we have made.

"I wish everyone at the FA considerable success for the future."