FA deny wishful thinking that Capello will walk away

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The Football Association last night rejected reports that senior figures in their organisation believe Fabio Capello will quit if England fail to reach the last 16 of the World Cup, sparing them the public backlash at paying up the final two years of his £4.8m-a-year contract if he was sacked.

With potentially disastrous timing, the Club England chairman Sir Dave Richards cancelled the break clause in Capello's deal that would have allowed the FA to get out of his contract on less punitive terms on the day that the England team flew to South Africa this month.

Capello, 64, is contracted until the end of the Euro 2012 tournament and, if sacked, the payout on his deal would be at least £10m. The BBC reported yesterday that FA officials were hopeful that Capello would simply walk away from the job and that they were optimistic he would prove "honourable" in the event of failure against Slovenia on Wednesday.

However, that remains wishful thinking on the FA's part. There is still a good chance that Capello could hold out for the full payout. His contract is not contingent on England's success or otherwise in the tournament. The FA, including Richards who has been staying at England's Royal Bafokeng training camp, would only have themselves to blame.

An FA spokesman said last night that he was "disappointed" by the BBC story that senior FA figures wanted Capello to quit in the event of failure on Wednesday and that it did not reflect the views of the organisation.

The FA hierarchy would not want to go through the nightmare of searching for their fourth manager in the space of four years if Capello was to go this summer. However, there would be such widespread dismay among England fans that the governing body could find themselves with no other option but to get rid of him.

They would also have to move quickly if they wanted to appoint Fulham's coach Roy Hodgson, who is expected to go to Liverpool at the start of next month.

There are precious few other options. They play Hungary in a friendly on 11 August and the first World Cup qualifier is against Bulgaria on 3 September. It is an imperative for the FA that they continue to get full houses for England home games to pay for the debts on the £757m Wembley Stadium.

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