League chairman rebukes Brooking on youth policy

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The Independent Online

The chairman of the Football League, Brian Mawhinney, has questioned whether Trevor Brooking can continue as the Football Association's director of football development after the former West Ham winger suggested League clubs were the wrong people to take control of youth coaching.

Mawhinney dismissed Brooking's arguments, but it was the manner and timing of Brooking's comments as much as their substance that seemed to have riled him. "In my previous experience of public service," he said, "when an employee goes public over the head of his line manager - in this case the head of the PFA [Professional Footballers' Association] and the [FA] board of directors - people are entitled to be surprised and concerned, the more so in this case when Brian Barwick [chief executive of the FA] is on holiday."

Although he stopped short of calling for Brooking to stand down, saying "it's for Barwick to decide what to do about this", he did stress that "I'd be amazed if I were expressing a minority view".

Brooking had called on the FA not to let clubs handle youth development, claiming that their need for short-term success made them unsuited to the role.

Mawhinney, though, was quick to defend his members, pointing out both their financial input and the fact that it is still Brooking's department that bears ultimate responsibility. "Every coach out there in youth development has to be licensed by the FA," he said. "If the coaching is not very good, the FA has a problem. In this country about £65m is spent each year on youth development. About £30m of that comes from Premier League clubs, about £30m from Football League clubs, and about £4.2m from the FA. There is a commitment on the Football League's part to youth development."

Mawhinney also outlined ideas for cleaning up the game. He spoke of the World Cup as having been "riddled with cheating" and demanded that managers take more responsibility. "It happens either because managers try to persuade players not to behave this way and players don't listen, or because managers don't take this issue seriously," he said.

On bungs, Mawhinney was pessimistic. "You can say there's a culture," he said, "but a regulatory authority needs evidence." His suggestion was "a confidential clearing house" to collate rumours until such a weight of anecdotal evidence exists that a formal inquiry can be launched.