FA seek way to part company with Eriksson

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The Independent Online

The Football Association are increasingly resigned to the fact that Sven Goran Eriksson will be cleared by the inquiry into whether or not he lied over an affair with an FA secretary, but still wants to remove Eriksson from his £4m-a-year post and are considering what level of compensation they can offer.

The Football Association are increasingly resigned to the fact that Sven Goran Eriksson will be cleared by the inquiry into whether or not he lied over an affair with an FA secretary. The organisation still want to remove Eriksson from his £4m-a-year post and are considering what level of compensation they can offer. However, they have been advised that Eriksson would seek a full settlement - around £14m - and that is a figure the cash-strapped FA cannot afford.

Nevertheless the FA will hope a compromise can be reached with Eriksson, whose strained relations with his employer may well have now gone beyond the point of repair. Eriksson's camp still maintain he wants to keep his job, and believe he can work with the current regime, but are aware that there may be influential figures "out to get him". A lawyer from outside the FA is conducting the inquiry, the results of which which will be submitted to the FA board on Thursday, into the events leading up to the incorrect denials issued by the FA, including the threat of legal action, over Eriksson's affair with Faria Alam.

Preliminary interviews have taken place with David Davies, the FA's executive director, and coincidentally Faria's boss, and Colin Gibson, the FA's director of communications, over their roles. Either man could prove the "fall guy" in the affair. More formal testimonies will be gathered tomorrow. However, it appears that the initial findings indicate there is little conclusive proof that Eriksson deliberately lied. Indeed, his conversation with Davies, which led to the press notices being issued, may have been open to interpretation, especially over Eriksson's use of the phrase "it's nonsense". In his statement last week Eriksson insisted he "neither categorically confirmed nor denied" a relationship with Alam and did not know the FA planned to release notices.

That opens the way for a "dream scenario", being touted by some at the FA and which would be accepted by Eriksson's camp, that the whole episode was based on a genuine misunderstanding and that everyone involved acted in good faith. However, such a conclusion would smack of a whitewash. At the same time it is clear that many within the FA's executive, and their 12-strong board, have lost patience with Eriksson. More than two-thirds would favour his removal in any case but are mindful of the compensation issue.

The determination to remove Eriksson was apparent in the cancellation on Tuesday by the FA's chairman, Geoff Thompson, of a meeting with his advisers to clear the air. Instead the FA have now opened up another line of inquiry into Eriksson's conduct - his expenses. They are checking whether or not he used FA funds to pay for meals with Alam. Mark Palios, the FA's chief executive, who also had an affair with Alam, is also under investigation. He was cleared of lying by Thompson last week - but Thompson was quickly reminded by the board that he did not have the power to issue such a statement. Extraordinarily, Thompson's own conduct will also be discussed. Effectively it means that the position of none of the FA's major figures - Thompson, Palios, Davies, Gibson and Eriksson - is safe.

Despite the FA's apparent eagerness to dispense with Eriksson, independent legal opinion is also mounting against them, with experts insisting it they are in danger of contravening Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, which enshrines any employee's right to keep their private life private. "The FA are not entitled to inquire into Mr Eriksson's private life," said Russell Brown, senior partner with Glaisyers solicitors and an expert in contract law. "I am sure Sven's lawyers are advising him that legally the FA haven't got a leg to stand on and... he could take them to the cleaners.

"Why the FA are being advised to release the statements they have I am not sure. They would have been far better not saying anything. There is a grey area in cases such as this, particularly if someone is conducting a relationship in work time, but if the FA pushed that one, it would smack of a lack of consistency, since Mark Palios was apparently seeing the same woman."

Eriksson will be at the Amsterdam ArenA again tonight, when he will watch Arsenal play Ajax. He also attended the club's match at the same stadium on Friday, when he sat next to Arsenal's vice-chairman, David Dein, who is on the FA's board which will deliver the judgement on Eriksson.

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