Southgate leaves FA to avoid joining the blazer brigade

The Football Association's youth development programme suffered a blow yesterday when Gareth Southgate left the organisation having decided the role of technical director was not for him.

The Independent understands Southgate, who has been head of elite development for 18 months, was offered the newly created post having impressed with his part in persuading both the grassroots and the FA Council to accept a raft of reforms to young player development and in the delivery of the new coaching hub of St George's Park, Burton.

However, the former Middlesbrough manager and England international had reservations about committing himself to a role which would have tied him to the governing body for several years, involved a lot of travel and bureaucracy, and probably pigeon-holed him as a "blazer". Rather than accept the job and then leave it after six months, he felt it best to make the decision now. Unusually with a senior figure leaving the FA there has been no bust-ups or personality clashes.

Dan Ashworth, technical director at West Bromwich Albion, is now favourite for the post though there are other candidates in the mix. While Ashworth does not have Southgate's high profile he does have hands-on experience in youth development and is just as well connected within the professional game.

FA general secretary Alex Horne admitted Southgate's departure was "a disappointment". The FA had invested in grooming Southgate for a senior role within a body often criticised for the lack of ex-players in leadership positions. However, Southgate does not rule out returning to work for the FA in the future, will remain involved in some committees, and said he had advised the FA: "I will be pleased to help with specific projects moving forward."

"I'd like to place on record just how much I have enjoyed working at the FA. It really has been an honour and a pleasure. Hopefully I have been able to play some small part in delivering important changes to the way children play at the youngest levels. It has also been a tremendous experience to work on St George's Park."

In some respects it is a good time for Southgate to quit. In the last year, the FA has completed St George's Park, the keys to which were handed over earlier this month, assisted in the adoption of EPPP (Elite Player Performance Plan), and passed such youth development proposals as smaller pitches and the banning of 11-a-side matches until players are at under-13 level.

A new man will take on new challenges like persuading the grassroots and council to accept measures to ameliorate the relative age effect (the bias that results from both schools and clubs having a 1 September cut-off date for year groups).

Southgate will continue to work for ITV as a pundit and is open to other employment ideas. He has not, however, left the FA to actively seek a return to management, though that may be the eventual result. In the immediate future he is expected to spend more time with his family in the north-east. Southgate has school-age children and would not have seen much of them had he taken up the new post at the FA's Wembley HQ and at St George's Park, and would have had to travel a lot domestically and overseas. This may be one reason why, as one FA insider said, "not as many people want it as you might think". Including, it transpires, the man the FA wanted.

VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Life & Style
Stir it up: the writer gets a lichen masterclass from executive chef Vivek Singh of the Cinnamon restaurants
food + drinkLichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Life & Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers