Robin Scott-Elliot: Bernstein deserves credit for firm and decisive leadership

 

When John Terry was last relieved of his duties as captain of England it was a decision made by Fabio Capello. A four-man gathering of the Football Association's key suited players, including the chairman Lord Triesman, decided to leave the manager to have the final say. This time it was the chairman, David Bernstein, who took the lead and the chairman who informed Terry of his fate. The events of the last two days at the business end of Wembley Way have smacked of firm and decisive leadership, something that has not always appeared the FA way.

It is barely a year since Hugh Robertson, the Sports Minister, described football as the "worst-governed sport in this country". Less than a week after Robertson's declaration, which was aimed squarely at the FA, Bernstein took over as chairman of a body that was also still struggling to rediscover its direction after a clumsy and controversial bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

Bernstein fits the leadership mould that Iain Duncan-Smith once optimistically sought to attach to himself. The difference is that Bernstein is a quiet man who is proving able to make himself heard effectively.

Last summer he made a lonely and brave stand against Sepp Blatter's unopposed re-election as Fifa president. Since then he has worked (quietly of course) to successfully repair relations with Europe . He has also overseen the appointment of the first woman, Heather Rabbatts, to the FA board.

There is none of Triesman's fondness for a headline in Bernstein's approach. He is careful and guarded, an outlook that does not easily win allies, but so far he has got it right. It was his decision to make the running on Terry and take it out of the manager's hands, and he deserves credit for it.

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