Palios stays cool on FA return

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The Independent Online

Mark Palios, who resigned as the Football Association's chief executive in the summer, says that he had "unfinished business" when he left Soho Square. Put under pressure to say whether he might seek to return, Palios declined to rule out the possibility.

Mark Palios, who resigned as the Football Association's chief executive in the summer, says that he had "unfinished business" when he left Soho Square. Put under pressure to say whether he might seek to return, Palios declined to rule out the possibility.

In an interview to be aired on Radio Five Live this evening, Palios says that he had a "three-phase plan" to reorganise the FA but only reached phase one.

Talking about the still vacant position of chief executive, he adds: "It's a fantastic job... lots of people would die to have that job." On three occasions he is asked whether he would like to return. He avoids any straight answer, saying only that the question is unfair on the FA and on whoever eventually gets the job.

The FA will interview its final shortlist of candidates a week tomorrow. Brian Barwick, ITV's controller of sport, is the favourite, and it has been widely assumed that the only other remaining contender is Richard Bowker, the former chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority.

It is understood, however, that a third person, as yet unnamed, will be put forward for consideration. Despite Palios's comments, there is no suggestion it will be him. The circumstances of his departure over the Faria Alam furore would make such a move extraordinary.

In tonight's programme, Palios says that his early agenda while at Soho Square was driven by the search for financial stability above everything, including Sven Goran Eriksson's contract extension (which he does not regret), Rio Ferdinand's missed drugs test, and the disciplinary fall-out from the "Battle of Old Trafford".

"There was a crisis," he says of the FA's debts, which stood at £130m. He says that at one stage, he had 21 days to find £23m to stop the new Wembley project collapsing. Now, he says, the FA is debt-free. The media intensity after the Alam affair, he added, meant that staying at the FA was not compatible with being a single parent with four daughters.

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