Sports minister Helen Grant calls for a woman to be added to FA commission to 'reflect the make-up of the society that it represents'

Grant's concerns come after the Football Association's director Heather Rabbatts criticised chairman Greg Dyke for not including someone of black or an ethnic minority

The sports minister has said that Greg Dyke’s FA commission should include a woman among its members. Helen Grant said the commission “should seek to reflect the make-up of the society that it purports to represent and I know the contribution that women could make”.

Responding FA chief executive Alex Horne would not answer directly the question as to whether a woman should be on the commission, which was set up by FA chairman Dyke, but stressed the “level of inclusion and diversity when it comes to the consultation process could not be higher.”

Horne said the commission make-up could change and it is expected the ten-man body could expand to 12 before it begins its work. However, since its remit is to produce more players for England’s men’s team it was not anticipated a woman would be added.

The make-up of the commission has already caused the Football Association much grief with the absence of an ethnic minority member – until Rio Ferdinand agreed to join it at the weekend – prompting a rebellion from FA director Heather Rabatts.

Grant said: “I think all governing bodies and commissions of this nature should seek to reflect the make-up of the society that it purports to represent, and I know the contribution that women could make. I have met many fantastic women in my days as both a lawyer and as a politician.

“I am very, very pleased to hear about Rio and I think his appointment will be a very good thing.”

Horne said: “The commission’s aim is to look at pathways for talented young players eligible to play for England, and where they are playing their club football, so they are playing regular good quality football, here or abroad, and available for our England team and development teams. No one denies they are the right objectives.

“It will be our most inclusive consultation, seeking input from all aspects of football, England and overseas, and from other sports. The level of inclusion and diversity of when it comes to the consultation process could not be higher.”

Horne insisted despite the fiasco over its composition the commission remained ‘credible and laudable’. Of the Premier League’s refusal to provide a panel member he noted the league’s ‘experts’ were those working in youth development for clubs and they would be consulted. 

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore said that his organisation’s clubs had decided collectively that, rather than have one person on the panel, they would all be available for consultation.

Scudamore, however, warned that his own experience of establishing the league’s Elite Player Performance Plan indicated reform would be difficult.

“We are absolutely committed to taking part and to doing constructively what we can to help address the issue. When Greg’s done his work and he's come up with his recommendations, we, the Premier League, will be integral in getting whatever those recommendations are into practice, but it’s not going to be easy.

“The process is complicated, it’s going to be difficult, you’ve seen how difficult it is already. I still bear the scars, the hours and hours and hours being locked in rooms, speaking to every academy manager, everybody who thought they had a view. And then, just trying to get it through the clubs, getting it voted on. I, more than anybody, know how hard it is to get 20 clubs over the line in terms of significant change in this field.”

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