For a man whose background was running a humble engineering company in Sheffield that went into receivership, Sir Dave Richards has parlayed his influence to extraordinary heights in English football. He became Sheffield Wednesday chairman in 1990 but quit just before they were relegated 10 years later to become chairman of the Premier League.
He is rarely allowed by the Premier League to speak in public because of a lack of judgement when facing the media that has caused embarrassment in the past. He was criticised by the clubs for walking out on England's 2018 World Cup bid in November in a fit of pique but even that does not seem to have dented the influence of a man who is one of the powerbrokers of English football.
He could be seen wandering around England's Royal Bafokeng training base this month in Umbro T-shirt and sunglasses. The casual observer would never have guessed that he will be the decisive figure in Fabio Capello's future as England manager.
HOW SIR DAVE RICHARDS HAS POWER TO DECIDE CAPELLO'S FUTURE
1. SEAT ON FA MAIN BOARD:
Richards is on the FA main board, which is where the power lies. Other big hitters include David Gill, the Manchester United chief executive. They are joined by five representatives of the national game who are much less influential. The FA chairman, Roger Burden, comes from the national game side and is unlikely to have much influence.
2. CHAIRMAN OF CLUB ENGLAND:
Club England claims to have the final say on England matters, but will take soundings from the influential voices on the main board. CE was fast-tracked into existence in May when the FA was concerned that Capello was being tempted by the manager's job at Inter. Adrian Bevington is managing director, Sir Trevor Brooking is on the board.
3. CHAIRMAN OF INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE:
The 12-man FA committee used to have the job of appointing the England manager but itsimportance has dwindled in recent years as more modern chief executives such as Adam Crozier have sought to sideline it. One member is Peter Coates, the Stoke City chairman.
4. CHAIRMAN OF PREMIER LEAGUE
Richards also sits in the hot seat of the Premier League, whose chief executive Richard Scudamore has always been sensitive to accusations that the league's high contingent of foreign players is damaging to the national team. The Premier League now has great influence over the FA, where it has three seats on the main board.