Once again, the English FA has made itself a laughing stock for losing yet another CEO. Once the FA has finished with its empty excuses, the powers that be should take a long hard look at itself and realise that for the game to move forward everyone needs to drop their individual agendas and get on the same page.
This season (pre World Cup at least) could down as one of the worst for English football for many a year. From seeing a Premiership club going into administration, to having John Terry stripped of the England captaincy and now more recently having the FA lose their most well respected Chief Executive in years; it truly has been shambolic. All three of these occurrences have marred what should be an exciting year for English football fans as the national team now has a squad and a manager that are legitimate World Cup contenders, and all three of these problems could have been avoided.
Despite each problem seemingly being completely separate from each other they all in actual fact stem from a similar issue, and that is selfishness. Prominent figures doing what they feel is best for themselves, whilst refusing to take the overall health of football into account, is a trait that is currently poisoning our beautiful game.
Nothing demonstrates this more than the way in which the Burns Report has to a large extent been arrogantly ignored by anyone who matters at the FA. The report, carried out in 2005 upon the orders of the government, highlighted that there was a major conflict of interest on the FA board. Quite logically Lord Burns suggested that the board be reduced in size from eight members to five, specifically putting an emphasis on the reducing the power that the Premier League wields. What has happened? As usual nothing, characters such as Bolton chairman Phil Gartside remain as members of the board, ludicrously protesting how relegation should be eradicated from the Premiership in an effort to ensure his club remains in the top flight. With conflicts of interest and a general sense of selfishness remaining at the FA, is it any wonder that nobody wants to work there? Why should we be surprised that a fair, well to do experienced manager, such as Ian Watmore, felt the need to resign from his post as CEO despite doing such a good job and being well respected by everyone who had contact with him.
It is generally recognised that in business, the success, failure and the general culture of the organization all comes from the top. The FA have done a pretty good job over the last few years to create a culture of “Greed is good” with various board members making the legendry character Gordon Geko in the famous movie “Wall Street” look a reasonable and fair-minded individual. Not one person has yet failed the fit and proper person test. By the looks of it seems that as long as you have a sack full of cash, have a foreign name and can offer the same old platitudes of “I’m here for the long term “ and “Our aim is Europe in five years” etc, then you are in with no questions asked. How can anyone take the FA seriously when Thaksin Shinawatra passes as a fit and proper person test when he is wanted on corruption charges and crimes against humanity in his own country? How about Flavio Briatori? He is kicked out of Formula One as liar and a cheat, yet it fine for him to take over QPR. Are the FA really being serious?
However all is not lost, because at least somebody got one decision right. It just so happens that the most important position of all within the FA is currently filled by a man who demonstrates nothing of the horrible traits described above. Fabio Capello is proving to be a first class appointment as England manager and someone who the whole of football can learn from. Capello has done such a great job yet refuses to step into the limelight and bases his whole management philosophy firmly on one simple principle; that all decisions are his, and are based solely on whether or not it is the right thing to do for the long term benefit of the team. If the FA and football administrators everywhere could just realise why Fabio Capello is so good at his job and then imply his simple philosophy to their everyday work, our national game could once again be a beautiful game.
Written by Kieran Lovelock