Adam Crozier, the Football Association's chief executive, resigned from his £600,000-a-year post yesterday after losing a power struggle with the chairmen of the country's leading clubs.
The departure of the Scot clears the way for the Premiership clubs to wrest control of the professional game from the "amateurs" of the FA 114 years after the Football League was founded. The resignation followed a fortnight of increasing pressure on Mr Crozier, orchestrated by Premiership chairmen unhappy at what they claimed was his autocratic style. Geoff Thompson, the FA chairman, said: "It is with great regret and sadness that I have today accepted Adam Crozier's resignation. Adam has led the transformation of the FA into a successful, modern organisation, which I know is now respected throughout the world in sport and in business. He has surpassed all our expectations by meeting his objectives."
Mr Thompson added that Mr Crozier, 38, had resigned over "a difference of opinion over how the game should be run and regulated in the future." That "difference of opinion" was about Crozier's resistance to an attempt by clubs to gain greater autonomy and an increased share of FA income, much of which is generated in association with players.
Recruited in January 2000 from the advertising industry, Mr Crozier was expected to modernise a body infamous for slow-moving bureaucracy. Under him, decision-making was streamlined and commercial revenue vastly increased. Those achievements have enabled the not-for-profit FA to develop all areas of the game from youth and women's football to a National Football Centre under construction near Burton on Trent. Mr Crozier also brought the Wembley debacle he inherited to a conclusion and secured the appointment of Sven Goran Eriksson as England boss. One ramification of his departure is that Mr Eriksson, having made clear his support for Mr Crozier, may consider his position.
Mr Crozier, who will stay at his post while a successor is found, said: "It will be difficult to leave a job I have enjoyed so much and which has given me so much satisfaction."