FA warned to reform - or lose funding

The Football Association was warned today to implement reform or face cuts in funding.

Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe demanded the FA act on recommendations made in a structural review of the organisation in 2005.

The Lord Burns review set in motion plans to streamline the FA to ensure it was more effective.

But Mr Sutcliffe, writing in the Guardian newspaper, said the FA still needed to implement a number of key proposals from that review.

These include the introduction of two non-executive directors and reform of the FA Council.

If this is not done, the withdrawal of funding is one option open to the Government, Mr Sutcliffe said.

He explained: "Funding is one lever we've got. It would be a last resort. But there has to be, and there already is, a recognition that the status quo is not good enough."

He said the FA "must use this opportunity where good progress has been made, to put their house in order".

"If that doesn't happen, the influence of the FA will diminish and football as a sport will suffer."

Mr Sutcliffe has also written to the FA's independent chairman Lord Triesman, appointed as a result of the Burns review, Football League chairman Lord Mawhinney and Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, urging them to work more closely.

Richard Bevan, chief executive of the League Managers Association, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "From our perspective, the important things are accountability, transparency, governance, good communication between the stakeholders - and that's got to be balanced with good leadership.

"And those are the key areas that I'm sure that Gerry Sutcliffe is looking to address."

An FA spokesman said: "We are looking forward to receiving the letter and studying it carefully.

"The issues raised by the original questions and the minister's response represent important challenges to the game at all levels.

"They merit careful thought and a proper response, with football working together in partnership."