Horne named as FA general secretary

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The Independent Football

Alex Horne has been appointed general secretary of the Football Association on a permanent basis to succeed Ian Watmore, who walked out as chief executive in March.

Horne, who was acting chief executive, was handed his new role following an FA board meeting today where Roger Burden was also made acting chairman until a new independent chairman can be appointed to succeed Lord Triesman.

The new chairman will have to have a "football understanding and who can oversee the broad business of the FA", the board said in a statement.

Horne is a former managing director of Wembley Stadium and for the last two years has been the FA's chief operating officer.

Burden, who could be acting chairman until the end of the year while the search for a permanent appointment proceeds, said: "The board has been greatly impressed by the work that Alex Horne has done in his seven years at the FA. We are confident that in appointing Alex to lead the executive on a permanent basis he will provide strong leadership and stability.

"As a board we will now draw breath to define the role and search for a new independent non-executive chairman.

"We will be seeking an individual who has football understanding and who can oversee the broad business of the Football Association."

That does not rule out a change to the FA's constitution to allow people involved in football to be appointed as chairman, but does mean no board members will be made chairman permanently.

Both Burden and former Football League and Ipswich chairman David Sheepshanks, who had been joint acting chairmen since Triesman's resignation 11 days ago, had been suggested as possible challengers for the role on a permanent basis.

Sheepshanks said he did not put himself forward for the sole role as acting chairman due to other commitments.

Sheepshanks said: "We had a very constructive discussion at the board and concluded together that it was preferable to have one single point of accountability during this interim period as we focus on this summer's World Cup and the 2018 bid.

"I did not put myself forward for this sole role having a number of other business and football commitments not least leading the very important St George's Park project.

"I am delighted that Roger is undertaking the chairmanship in the interim and, together with my colleagues on the Board, I will be offering him my full support whilst we seek a new chairman."

Horne has a strong financial background - he qualified as a chartered accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers specialising in business improvement and corporate turnarounds, and joined the FA in 2003 as finance director.

He also impressed FA chiefs during the tricky negotiations with Wembley's constructors Multiplex during the handover of the stadium to the FA.

Horne said: "I am delighted that the board has asked me to take this role in leading the FA Group. I have enjoyed my seven years in various roles with the FA and am looking forward to this exciting challenge.

"I have excellent support from my team and the dedicated and talented staff at the FA."

The FA have changed the title of the job from chief executive to general secretary to bring it into line with FIFA and UEFA and other national associations but the responsibilities will remain the same.