Paying the penalty for a sporting success
Wednesday 30 October 2002
Sometimes is possible to judge a public figure by their enemies. In the case of the chief executive of the Football Association, Adam Crozier, the record of those seeking to remove him from his job makes for a convincing case in Mr Crozier's favour.
His opponents include Ken Bates, a key figure in the Wembley stadium fiasco and chairman of debt-laden Chelsea; Peter Ridsdale, chairman of Leeds, perhaps the only club in England able to match Chelsea's profligacy and debts; and Dave Richards, former chairman of Sheffield Wednesday, another club whose financial and footballing performance leaves much to be desired.
Mr Crozier, it should be recalled, inherited an association that was amateurish, badly run and bungled almost every major challenge it found itself facing. During his short time in office he has kicked aside the outdated attitudes that bedevilled the body and he has trebled income – much of which goes back into the game, often at grass roots, rather than into millionaire players' pockets. Perhaps his greatest service was to summon up the bravery to appoint a foreigner, Sven-Goran Eriksson, as manager of the England team. It is difficult to remember quite what a fuss Mr Eriksson's appointment caused at the time. But the bold move has stood the test of time.
Mr Crozier also played a major part in extricating football from the disaster that was the new Wembley stadium and placing that project on a much firmer foundation. He has also spoken out against the absurd levels of players' wages and agents' fees. He may have upset the football establishment with his brash approach, but football has been the beneficiary of his actions.
It is tempting to wonder whether Mr Bates's sudden antipathy to the FA chief owes anything to his abrupt removal from the Wembley project. But leaving aside any personal considerations, this bid by Premiership grandees to oust Mr Crozier looks like a thinly veiled attempt to gain an even bigger share of the funds coming into the game for the top clubs – many of which are astonishingly badly run – at the expense of the lower leagues and the amateur game. Football needs Mr Crozier. He should stay.
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