Richard Scudamore, the Premier League chief executive, last night said the departure of his Football Association counterpart Ian Watmore was a source of "difficulty and disappointment" but denied that his members had contributed to it.
Ian Watmore resigned last week out of frustration at the way that those with vested interests, as he saw it, blocked his plans. His proposals to reform the disciplinary system which has become awash with lawyers are understood to have been among those rejected, leading Watmore to conclude he must go.
However, Scudamore rebutted suggestions that his own chairman Sir Dave Richards had been a malign force who had contributed to Watmore's frustration and insisted that a disciplinary review had been supported in principle by the Premier League – despite the FA's Professional Game Board having rejected it last week.
"I accept none of it," Scudamore said of the accusation levelled at Richards. "It's an absolutely impossible thing to level at our organisation , especially Dave. Ian was talking about a regulatory review [and reform of the] disciplinary system. We were supportive of the review, though we can't say we were supportive of proposals as they weren't sent in."
Scudamore said there had to be an acceptance from those who lead the FA that there are vested interests within the game and that drawing them together was an imperative for Watmore's successor – a "not impossible" task. But he said that the FA may lack the structure to run the modern game and suggested that its structure and set of rules are outdated now.
"The way they are organised and mobilised does need looking at," Scudamore said. "You do sense there's a lot of duplication as the game has grown. It is a set of rules and a constitution that does look like it lends itself to a different era. You have to believe there is some sort of structural difficulty with it, but Ian actually had the best chance. The way he came in and went about things – his personality – he had the best chance of reconciling what was an association of interests."
Before replacing Watmore, the FA needed to "take a real good look at the job brief and be very honest about what they are being asked to do and what success looks like," Scudamore suggested.
The FA may be deluding itself if it believes it can take control of the game, Scudamore added. "There are two bits to this game – the national game and professional game – and these should be able to be run themselves as autonomous organisations with a holding board at the top which deals with the central core business," he concluded.