Lord Triesman has denied overseeing alterations to Fabio Capello's £6m-a-year contract ahead of last summer's World Cup without properly consulting the Football Association's board, despite his then chief executive yesterday telling a parliamentary inquiry that the former chairman had "made a mistake" in doing so.
Triesman resigned as chairman on 16 May, before Capello agreed to his new deal, one that saw the exit clause removed as the FA sought to tie down the manager amid mounting speculation that he might return to Italian football after the finals in South Africa. But Alex Horne, who is now the FA's general secretary, told the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing into football governance at Wembley that Triesman had made the decision and the governing body maintain they have proof of Triesman's involvement.
According to Horne's evidence yesterday, Triesman consulted only with Horne and "four or five" unnamed senior members of the FA's board before agreeing the changes with the Italian.
"He [Triesman] made a mistake," Horne said, although he stressed that the decision to alter Capello's contract had been the correct one – it was the appropriate execution that was lacking. He told the inquiry: "I'll hold my hands up on behalf of David Triesman and say, in hindsight, it was a whole board decision and should have gone to the whole board. It did not go to the whole board. The decision has been reviewed internally and we hold our hands up to a corporate governance mistake.
"David [Triesman] was the senior member involved as chairman of the association and clearly felt he had the authority to make that commitment. It was only after he left that the board questioned the decision."
But Triesman said last night: "I never saw Fabio Capello's contract, not once. Changes to Mr Capello's contract were negotiated after I had left the FA and I know only what everyone read in the newspapers.
"My expectation would have been, in accordance with my normal approach, that those who conducted the final negotiation and signed the document would have taken the contract to the board. On one occasion, I met Fabio to discuss issues about his Capello Index. He wanted to know if we were unhappy about it and whether it would affect the break clause in his contract.
"Because I didn't intend to use a break clause in the circumstances and because England was doing very well, I said I had no such intention. This was around the final stages of the qualification phase of the World Cup. It is wrong to say I made changes to Capello's contract without the FA Board's approval."
Triesman, who was a controversial figure as chairman, has already given evidence to the committee and is expected to return to Parliament later this month to discuss England's disatrous bid for the 2018 World Cup. Triesman resigned following a tabloid sting.