Sir Dave Richards rejects Lord Triesman criticism

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The Independent Football

Sir Dave Richards has hit back at claims that he bullied Football Association board members into blocking reforms and said the accusations were "futile".

The Premier League chairman said he was a plain-speaking Yorkshireman but open-minded to change.

Richards was attacked by former FA chairman Lord Triesman at a Parliamentary inquiry into football yesterday for his "aggressive" behaviour.

But Richards told ESPNsoccernet: "Bully the 12 people on the FA Board? Absolutely not. What a futile accusation.

"I am not a bully, I, nor the Premier League, block any change at the FA, we would not block change because we want change, we are a progressive organisation and I was personally involved in changing the constitution of the FA back in 1996 to form the board capable of being progressive."

Richards insisted however that the Premier League would fight their corner if the FA tried to control the leagues.

He added: "The FA is in control of football's governance, football's regulations and of football's discipline, and that is how it should be.

"If the FA wants to run the professional game, the leagues and the Premier League, then, of course, we all have a problem because the Premier League won't tolerate that kind of interference and we will fight our corner.

"I attend the FA board meetings about once a month, and I am one man's opinion among a board of 12. But I am entitled to my opinion as a representative of the Premier League.

"For good or bad, I speak my mind, and being a Yorkshireman I might not be as eloquent at speaking as some, but I say it as I see it."

Triesman accused the Premier League chairman of using the league's financial power to bully others in the game into blocking change.

The main confrontation came last year when the professional game's representatives blocked the FA sending in a blueprint for change to then culture secretary Andy Burnham.

Asked about Richards using bullying tactics, Triesman told the culture, media and sport select committee: "My experience is he will put his point politely in board meetings but discussions outside are extremely aggressive discussions, really aggressive discussions, points are made in a very colourful way. I wouldn't use that language."'

Triesman's remarks are a renewal of old hostilities - even before his resignation last year following a Sunday newspaper sting, he had fallen out with the Premier League after he criticised levels of club debt.

Triesman also said that an idea by ex-FA chief executive Ian Watmore to have a group of advisers drawn from more ethnically-diverse backgrounds, and with more women, was also "dismissed after about two minutes on the grounds that all the talent that was needed was in the room."