English civil war: former FA gurus say it is just the Premier League’s puppet

December 12 – The English Football Association, already buffeted by the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the sport, has come under further attack after five of its most senior former executives wrote a damning letter to Parliament saying the organisation was unfit for purpose, self-serving and consumed by vested interests.

In a blistering onslaught on the way the game in England is run, the five – David Bernstein, David Davies, Greg Dyke, Alex Horne and David Triesman – say the governing body is outdated, resistant to change and full of “elderly white men” though it could be argued they themselves fall into the same category.

In a letter to the government’s Culture, Media and Sport committee the five say the national body needs urgent restructuring. They highlight the financial domination of the English Premier League and call for urgent action, saying the FA has an “inability to reform and modernise in a fast-changing world”.

“When the [Premier League] was created back in 1992, the FA of the day allowed it to opt out of FA oversight on most issues, and [Premier League] representatives regularly use their position on the FA Board to maintain this position,” the letter states.

Twenty clubs are in receipt of billions whilst the FA is under threat of losing millions which it gives wholly to grassroots football. To make matters worse, under the bizarre funding formula of the FA, not only does the FA not receive any of the [Premier League] billions, it is compelled to contribute tens of millions to the [Premier League], also money which could go to the grassroots of the game.

“It is little wonder that English football is out of balance. The FA has neither the modernity of approach nor independence required to counter the [Premier League] juggernaut, or to modernise its own governance. It does not appear to be able to exercise the regulatory control of the sport common to other national sport governing bodies. Too often, the FA Board, because of its lack of independence, takes its decisions on the basis of decisions of the organisations which send their representatives to the FA Board. It is therefore neither an independent board nor an independent regulator.”

“The FA has been given more than enough time to self-reform and therefore we now ask that parliament take this on board, recognise that further promises of change are not serious, and legislate as necessary, including the appointment of a regulator to achieve the changes that are so desperately needed.”

Much-needed reform “may well move us to redressing the woeful lack of English players or managers and the embarrassing failures of our national team for the past 50 years,” the five conclude.

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