'I wish Brian luck, but the way the FA is organised is untenable in 2005'

Richard Bowker, who was shortlisted for the FA's top job, outlines his radical proposals for change at Soho Square
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The Independent Football

For the good of football, I hope Brian Barwick succeeds in his new job as chief executive of the Football Association. He deserves a decent chance. But I believe an agenda for change within the organisation is essential.

For the good of football, I hope Brian Barwick succeeds in his new job as chief executive of the Football Association. He deserves a decent chance. But I believe an agenda for change within the organisation is essential.

The FA is undergoing a structural review by Lord Burns and he must surely conclude that the governance structure of the FA is utterly untenable in 2005. At present, we have a situation where the board of the game's regulator (the FA) is comprised solely of the regulated parties, and not an independent director in sight.

Lord Burns has an impressive track record of incisive analysis and tough, uncompromising decision making. Never has football needed those skills more than now.

The professional game and amateur game are divided. The FA needs to re- establish credibility. The grass roots need to be nourished.

In addition current TV formats for football are tired. Whole sectors of potential support are ignored, not least women and children. And positive advances from other sports, including technological innovations, have not been copied. The FA Cup and Wembley, the traditional crown jewels of the game, could also do with a polish. That, in a nutshell, is what I said in my final interview, but why apply at all?

There are two or three jobs that I would, frankly, give my right arm for. I had the privilege of doing one: running the railways for the government. Last year, one of the others was advertised - chief executive of the FA. As a passionate fan I applied without hesitation.

The application process was an interesting ? and very public - process. My name, along with Brian's, became public very early on. I have little doubt that that information emanated from within the FA, so sorting out media management in the FA is a top priority! The overall process was professional, though, demonstrating to me again that what people perceive goes on inside high-profile organisations and what actually goes on often tend to be poles apart.

At the final interview we were all asked to make a presentation on what we believed to be the key issues facing the FA and how, as CEO, we would tackle them in the first 100 days. Here in more detail is what I said.

First, secure a shared vision amongst all stakeholders. As long as football is fighting within itself, it cannot move forward, and I don't mean Ferguson and Wenger. The amateur-professional divide - and inter-league squabbles - will destroy the FA and damage football irreparably if not addressed.

Second, re-establish credibility as a governing body. How many times have we all asked: "Why did the FA do that?". Clear and proactive decision making supported by strong communication is the key to re-establishing vital credibility. A famous communicator once said: "If they haven't heard it, you haven't said it". Wise advice.

Third, reinforce commitment to the grass roots. Some believe the power of the Premiership will kill the golden goose and destroy the 'one game' principle. I certainly don't think that's pre-ordained, but the gap is widening. And the problem starts on the FA board. Six professional game representatives and six amateur game representatives; all committed men (can we please have more women?) with utterly divergent agendas. It is vital for the future of the game that the FA remains committed to the development of grass roots football. That and a healthy Premiership are not mutually exclusive.

Fourth, develop the world-class brands of Team England: the FA Cup and Wembley. The Premiership complains that the FA is diluting the total TV income to football by competing with the Premiership for the limited pot that TV companies have to buy football games. They argue it would be better if the Premiership ran the lot. This is not the answer, but demonstrates the tensions within the FA. The Premiership anyway have issues of their own to address.

More could be done to make football a more exciting TV sales opportunity. Why can't we have RefLink from rugby union, for example? And goal-mouth technology? Brian is a supporter of this, which is good news.

Finally, ensure that Wembley is delivered on time and on budget. Investors in football are looking to see whether Wembley will be delivered as promised. Confidence in the game is at stake.

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