Pioneering Scot appointed to reform FA

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The Independent Online

ADAM CROZIER, a 35-year-Scot with no previous experience in football administration, was yesterday appointed as the chief executive of the Football Association. He will leave his current position - as a joint chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi - to take up his new post at Lancaster Gate in January.

ADAM CROZIER, a 35-year-Scot with no previous experience in football administration, was yesterday appointed as the chief executive of the Football Association. He will leave his current position - as a joint chief executive of Saatchi & Saatchi - to take up his new post at Lancaster Gate in January.

Although a relative unknown in footballing circles, Crozier is passionate about the game. A Celtic supporter, he had trials with several clubs, including Stirling Albion and Hibernian, as a teenager. He has more recently been involved in the sport as part of a team of communications advisors to England's 2006 World Cup bid campaign.

The appointment of a Scot to the top job in English football might raise a few eyebrows, but the move is indicative of the FA's desire to transform itself into an effective and successful business organisation.

"I am very excited at the prospect of leading the FA at this moment in its history," Crozier said yesterday. "It is a huge challenge, but there is a real will for change at all levels of the organisation. My role is to lead and direct that change for the benefit of the whole game. My objective will be a professional organisation that delivers excellent performance at a time of unprecedented interest and passion in football."

Crozier's business credentials are impeccable. He has worked for Saatchi & Saatchi for 12 years and in 1990, aged of 26, he became the company's youngest ever board director. His rapid rise continued and five years ago he became joint chief executive, aged 30. Known as a charming, articulate individual, his communication skills are second to none and his marketing acumen highly respected.

The FA has often been accused of being ineffective and slow to embrace change. In the last year it has been dogged by controversy, not least through the departures of Graham Kelly and Keith Wiseman as the chief executive and chairman respectively and the departure of Glenn Hoddle as the England coach. Crozier is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an old-style FA man and his appointment shows the organisation's public commitment to wholesale change.

"Adam was the unanimous choice from an outstanding list of candidates," Geoff Thompson, the FA's chairman, said yesterday. "He has a proven track record of achievement, and a passion for football that we all share. With Adam, the FA will move into the 21st century with confidence and conviction."

Crozier, who is married with two young daughters, has had other offers from within football, but he admitted that he found the role of FA chief executive "irresistible".

It is understood that the FA deliberately sought a new man with a business track record (rather than a footballing background) to signal the new direction it intends to take.

Other interviewees for the post are thought to have included British Airways' marketing director, Martin George, New Zealand's rugby union chief executive, David Moffett, and Glen Kirton, the director of Euro 96, who is now a senior executive with the sports marketing firm, ISL.

Until Crozier takes over in the new year, the FA will continue to be run by its executive director, David Davies, the company secretary, Nic Coward, and the finance director, Michael Cunnah.

"What we all want now is a successful England team and a sport which is flourishing at all levels," Davies said yesterday. "That is what, under Adam's leadership, we intend to achieve."

It is understood that Davies, who did not apply for the chief executive position, has a four-year contract with the FA still to run and is likely to play a lower profile (but reforming) role when Crozier takes over.

One subject that Crozier would not talk about yesterday is who he will now be supporting when England meet Scotland in next month's crucial Euro 2000 play-offs.

"A diplomatic silence is probably my best bet," he said. Diplomacy? At the FA? That is a breakthrough.

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