Football Governance - Culture, Media and Sport Committee Contents

3  The FA

The role of the FA

25.  Our starting point is that the FA is the most appropriate agency to take the lead in addressing the weaknesses in English football. Its status as governing body for English football is unchallenged. The Court judgement referred to in the previous chapter affirmed that the FA was "the governing body and rule-making authority of association football in England".[37] We asked Sir Dave Richards and Richard Scudamore, the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Premier League respectively, if they accepted that the FA was the governing body of the English game, and both replied in the affirmative.[38] It follows therefore, that where we identify remedies, the FA is the obvious first port of call to ensure that they are implemented.

Concerns about the FA

26.  When we started our inquiry we were aware of concerns widely expressed that the FA's own internal governance structure would need to be improved before it was able to intervene effectively in the wider governance of the game. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson observed in the House that: "if you look across sport, it is very clear to me that football is the worst governed sport in this country, without a shadow of a doubt".[39] He told us that he would like to see the FA play a more pro-active role in football governance but that "the slight reluctance or the slight sense of caution that you would get is that everybody needs to be convinced that the FA is itself properly governed and able to carry out that function".[40] Before identifying remedies, therefore, it is necessary to determine what reform is required at the FA to allow it to become a leading part of the solution.

27.  Corporate governance best practice indicates a need for an Executive Board with the appropriate composition and skill-set to provide leadership for the organisation and to allow for timely and effective strategic decision-making.  The board should be supported by a streamlined committee structure and held to account by shareholders and/or a representative or supervisory body able to scrutinise key Board decisions. The FA organisational structure differs from that of single board organisations (the prevalent organisational form for companies in the UK) by virtue of its dual-board structure comprising the Main Board and Council.  This is, however, similar to the dual-board structure common in Germany and other European countries comprising an Executive Board and a Supervisory Board representing key stakeholders.  The Council is also an unusually large body. The basic principles of good governance for single and dual-board organisations are similar, but dual-board structures require close cooperation between the main board and the upper tier (the Council).  While the FA's structure and remit differentiates it from the standard UK company governance model—there is a closed group of shareholders, the shares cannot be bought and sold and the shares have no value—many of the basic principles of corporate governance for single- and two-tier systems still apply, and the FA's current structure falls some way short of ideal.

28.  The FA can be criticised for showing weak leadership and poor and/or conflicted decision-making, widely seen to be at least in part a consequence of divisive internal structures. Examples of this include a failure to provide leadership on financial governance regulation and a failure to articulate a clear position on the continued relevance or not of its Rule 34. The saga of Wimbledon's move to Milton Keynes, which the FA appeared to oppose but allowed to proceed on the majority verdict of an independent commission established under FA arbitration rules, provides another example. During our inquiry, we focused on a further example of weak governance: the decision taken before the World Cup to amend the contract of England Manager Fabio Capello without the approval of either the Board of the FA or its remuneration committee. General Secretary Alex Horne explained the context:

There was a contract through to 2012 for four years. Within that contract was a clause allowing either party to terminate for an amount of liquidated damages. […] There was speculation about clubs coming in for Fabio, and it was agreed with a few individuals at the top of the organisation, the last chairman [Lord Triesman] being at the heart of it, that we would delete mutually those two clauses. So effectively, we would remove our ability to terminate Fabio's contract with liquidated damages and he would delete his ability to walk away from our contract with liquidated damages.[41]

29.  The decision arguably looked better at the time, when England had performed strongly in its World Cup qualifying group, than it does with the hindsight of England's World Cup performance. The governance issue, though, stems from the very informal manner in which an important strategic decision—to tie the FA and the incumbent England manager more closely together after the World Cup—was made. Indeed, there remains a lack of clarity as to who actually took the decision to amend the contract. Alex Horne implied that Lord Triesman was the senior figure behind it, and Sir Dave Richards agreed with this interpretation when he gave evidence.[42] However, in correspondence to the Committee Lord Triesman stated that the decision was taken subsequent to his resignation in May 2010. Alex Horne accepted that it had been a failure of corporate governance not to seek the endorsement of the FA Board: "It was a whole board decision, and should have gone to the whole Board, but it did not".[43] New FA Chairman David Bernstein confirmed that changes to a contract of the size of Fabio Capello's should go through the remuneration committee "and then, if necessary, to the board".[44] He affirmed that, under his Chairmanship, such decisions would go through the proper channels.[45]

30.  The decision to rebuild Wembley has also been cited as poor decision-making. David Conn, in particular, has criticised the extent to which the requirement to service debts on Wembley stadium is constraining the FA's ability to invest in the grassroots.[46] The FA's accounts for the year to 31 December 2009 recorded the cost of servicing debts on Wembley stadium at £30 million. Wembley is not scheduled to break even until 2015. David Bernstein told us:

By 2015, we will have paid £150 million of debt plus interest and by 2015 we are anticipating that Wembley will become cash-positive and will start pushing cash back into the game. […] Clearly, in the interim, Wembley has been using FA finance to balance its books.[47]

He confirmed that the FA had needed to cut the amount of money going to the Football Foundation in order to service the Wembley debt.[48]

31.  The Commission on the Future of Women's Sport was frustrated as to how a policy change to remove the ban on mixed football up to the age of 14, agreed by the FA Board and the FA Council, could still be blocked by shareholders. In 2010 the FA shareholders managed to overturn the will of the FA Executive and the FA Council and block the removal of a ban. The Committee was critical of the FA in this regard in its Report on Women's Football, and has kept up the pressure on the FA subsequently.[49] The FA finally made some progress on this issue earlier this year.

32.  Fulham Supporters Trust was one of a number of witnesses to observe that the FA's internal structure "leaves it powerless to take on the Premier League when the situation demands".[50] The research organisation Substance similarly argued that "the emergence of Premier League dominance within the governing structures of the FA has further clouded and undermined the ability of the FA to govern the game independently".[51] William Gaillard's European perspective was that "turf wars" between the FA and the Premier League and Football League had damaged English football. He felt that "the English FA is probably in a weaker spot than any other FA in Europe. […] In other countries you have a more balanced situation where the status of the governing body that the FA holds is better protected".[52]

33.  The FA can also be criticised for being unrepresentative. Steve Lawrence wrote that, in a Council of over 100 members:

There is only one representative for players, one representative for referees, one representative for football fans, there are no representatives for football coaches, and there are no representatives for the children or 1.5 million youth players.

Football involves players, coaches, referees, the parents of youth players and spectators. These stakeholders, some 7 million people according to the FA, are represented on the FA by 3 people out of a Council of 114. The FA is utterly un-representative of football.[53]

The independent Manchester United Supporters Association felt that the FA Council was anachronistic, with a representative from each of the Armed Forces, the Public Schools, Oxford and Cambridge, but just one representative of the fans.[54]

34.  Gordon Taylor, Chief Executive of the Professional Footballers Association, noted that it had taken players 100 years to get a seat on the Council, and that players remained unrepresented on the FA's main Board. He observed further that:

every other country in the world of football actively encourages its former players who are prepared to stay in the administration of the game. You look at France, Spain, Germany; they have been very actively involved and they have been a force for good. From our point of view that has not happened and that is one area where we can learn a great deal from the rest of the world.[55]

In its submission, the League Managers Association similarly argued to be given a place on the Board and representation on a key committee reporting to the Board, the Professional Game Board:

Currently, three key stakeholders are excluded from the decision-making process, the Football Supporters' Federation, the Professional Footballers' Association and the League Managers Association. For the credibility of the sport, this has to change and the LMA believes that each of these organisations, representing these key elements in the game, should have a place on The FA Board as a right.

In addition, if the Professional Game Board of The Football Association is to have credibility, then the LMA would like to see representatives of the Football Supporters' Federation, the Professional Footballers' Association and the League Managers Association to be included in its composition.[56]

35.  Paul Elliot, who made a stand against racism as a player and was awarded an MBE for his work with young players and his involvement in anti-racism campaigns, was also concerned by the lack of diversity within the FA's structures:

I think it is very important for the FA to modernise and be fit for purpose for the 21st century. The game has got to be far more inclusive, far more diverse and far more welcoming, because there are the key stakeholders and there is room for everybody.[57]

A submission from the Inclusion and Diversity Caucus observed that:

the FA Council is overwhelmingly white and male, as is The FA Board and the senior management team.  There is also extremely limited representation from people with a disability or from the LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-gender) community.[58]

By contrast, it noted that the Norwegian FA has specified that at least one woman has to be represented on its executive. The Commission on the future of women's sport argued that the lack of women at the top of the game was damaging the FA's ability to take women's football forward. During our inquiry, we looked in detail at the FA Board, Council and wider committee structures.

The FA Board

36.  During our oral evidence sessions we asked Lord Triesman, Ian Watmore and Lord Burns, all of whom had detailed knowledge of the FA's structures, for their diagnoses. As previously noted, Lord Triesman was concerned that the FA "in my judgement […] has, apart from on-field discipline […] backed out of regulating altogether".[59] He told us further that this was a consequence of "systemic failure". His main concern was that the main decision-making body of the FA—the FA Board—made up of five representatives of the national game and five representatives of the professional game plus the independent Chairman and the Chief Executive of the FA, was deeply conflicted. He compared it to having Ofcom "exclusively made up of Sky, ITN, the BBC and possibly ESPN now".[60] He observed that the representative of the national game, which was partially dependent on funding from the professional game, would not challenge the professional game on issues pertaining to the professional game: "On issues which are regarded as absolutely critical to the professional game, they may not vote with them but they will not vote against them".[61]

37.  Ian Watmore highlighted his frustrations that, whilst he was Chief Executive, there was "nothing chief or executive about the job".[62] He told us that his proposals for reform too often "either hit the buffer of treacly governance" at Board level or "just [weren't] possible to do at all because we didn't have control of our money and our resources".[63] This is a reference to the 50:50 split of surplus FA revenue between the National Game Board and the Professional Game Board, as explained in the previous chapter. He commented that:

Apart from the fact that I begrudged giving FA money back to the professional game—because I didn't think they needed it and the national game did and I thought it would have been much better to have channelled the money in that direction—the sheer fact that we didn't have responsibility for how that money was spent.[64]

What emerged from the 50:50 split, he felt, was an "unholy alliance" between the professional game and the national game "not to tread on each other's patch".[65]

38.  Ian Watmore agreed with Lord Triesman that the Board essentially represented different interests with "no independence and clarity".[66] By way of example, he cited the fact that Board member David Gill would be conflicted in any discussion of financial governance because of the leveraged buyout model at Manchester United. More generally, he suggested that Premier League representatives would be conflicted in any discussion about the FA being tougher on calling up young players. Other submissions also cited the temporary role of Sir Dave Richards, Premier League Chairman, as Chairman of Club England with responsibilities over the national team, as a particularly striking conflict of interest. Ian Watmore observed further that:

People from various sectors of the game would sit in meetings of the FA and talk about the FA as though it was a third party. They were not driving the best decisions for the organisation, which is the FA; they were driving the best decisions for whichever area they came from […] I believe you need a board that is single-purpose and focused on the organisation and I didn't think it was.[67]

Chief amongst Ian Watmore's frustrations that led to his resignation was his conclusion that the conflicted Board prevented the FA from grasping the nettle on the governance of the game.

39.  Lord Burns acknowledged that some of the proposals for reform that he had advocated in his independent review of the FA—such as the proposal to appoint an independent Chairman and to give the Chief Executive a vote on the Board—had been enacted, but he remained frustrated that a number had not. The key reform proposal that had not been implemented was for the Board to have at least two independent directors to help break the conflict of interests detailed by Lord Triesman and Ian Watmore. He made the important point that if the FA is to become an effective regulatory body for the off-field governance of the game, it needs a different type of Board. He remarked that "the present board, is as if with the Financial Services Authority we had a controlling interest by the banks whom they are regulating".[68]

40.  We asked Lord Burns why he thought his reform proposal had not been adopted. His response focused on the national game representatives. He observed that, for them, Board membership was the pinnacle of their life in football—a reward for the work they had put in through the county associations. They were, therefore, concerned as to which of them would lose out if their numbers were cut to make way for more independent Board members. He felt that the professional game would have been content to reduce numbers—a point also confirmed by the Premier League during its evidence—but that they wanted to retain parity with the national game. Lord Burns opposed simply increasing the numbers on the Board on the grounds that this would make it unmanageable.[69]

Reform of the FA Board

41.  The most radical proposal for reform of the FA Board came from Ian Watmore. He argued for a Board composed entirely of independent directors. His preferred Board would have six voting executives from inside the FA and six non-voting executives, including an independent Chairman, drawn from football, business or public service but independent of current club, league, county or other footballing interests. He also recommended that the FA Council should give ground to the independent Board and FA Executive. He told us that he would like to see Trevor Brooking, in his current role as FA Director of Football Development, and Hope Powell, as the leader of the women's game, on the Board, to encourage a focus on football issues.[70]

42.  For Ian Watmore, an independent Board would give the FA strength without weakening the Premier League. He felt that the enormous success of the Premier League as a competition organiser in its own right meant that it was neither desirable nor possible to have a FA structured along German lines where "it is one integrated organisation where they look at the whole".[71] Rather, an independent Board would give the FA enough authority to set the financial regulatory environment, leaving the Premier League free to run its competition and implement the rules.[72] He felt it would also allow the FA to push through polices that helped the national team and the national game.[73]

43.  Malcolm Clarke, the fans' representative on the FA Council, offered support for the model proposed by Ian Watmore. He felt there was a strong case for the Board to be comprised of only independent members and executive members, and cited the Australian Football League Commission as an example of this.

44.  Other contributors wanted to retain representative interests on the Board, but to strengthen the independent element, building on Lord Burns' earlier recommendation for two independent directors. Lord Burns himself told us that "if I was looking at this now I would be looking for a larger number of independent directors".[74] He urged a focus on the problem that needed to be fixed, "the fact that the Board is dominated by people whose main interests lie on one side of the game or the other", and highlighted the benefits that independent directors would bring, including fresh ideas and support to the otherwise isolated independent chairman.[75] Lord Triesman agreed with Lord Burns on the importance of greater independent representation.[76] Former Chief Executive Graham Kelly also agreed on the need to provide independent support to the Chairman.[77]

45.  The Football League already has a non-executive director as well as an independent Chairman on its Board, Ian Ritchie, who is also Chief Executive of the All England Lawn Tennis club. Greg Clarke explained his value in the following terms:

I spend a lot of my time trying to find common ground [between the different leagues] […] when you have a number of stakeholders in a decision-making forum it is really easy to default to nothing ever happens because nothing can be agreed […]that is why you need independent directors.[78]

Greg Clarke pledged the support of the Football League in establishing independent directors on the FA Board.

46.  Stoke Chairman Peter Coates and Manchester United Chief Executive David Gill, who sits on the Board as a professional game representative, advocated two independent directors and a reduction in the size of the Board. The Premier League stressed that it supported independent directors as proposed by Lord Burns. It did not want, though, to depart too far from the principle of the Board as representative of football interests. Premier League Chairman Sir Dave Richards asserted that it would be a retrograde step if the Board ever became a wholly independent or majority independent Board.[79] Richard Scudamore further asserted that "the essence of the FA has to be a representative body where representatives of the game come together in an association to try and do what is in the best interests of the whole game". Indeed, during the oral evidence session, he consistently repeated his view that the FA was, in essence, "an association of interests".[80]

47.  The Premier League strongly rebuffed suggestions that it used intimidatory tactics or blocked reform. Richard Scudamore pointed out that the Premier League had "unconditionally accepted" the Burns Report.[81] We asked Sir Dave Richards whether he had a conflict of interests during the time that he was both Chairman of the Premier League and Chairman of Club England. We suggested, in particular, that it would have been difficult for him to consider, impartially, the case for a winter break which, it has been argued, might benefit the national team. Sir Dave Richards denied that there had been any conflict of interests. Richard Scudamore added though that "I think you would admit, Dave, you were the reluctant sole representative with that title during South Africa, because Lord Triesman had left the organisation, and the minute David Bernstein arrived you handed over that title or that pass had gone".[82] One issue arising from this example is whether it is appropriate for the Chairman of the Premier League to sit on the FA Board, given the scope of the conflicts of interest. The original Premier League Rules prevented Sir John Quinton, the first Premier League Chairman, from serving on the FA Board.

48.  The Professional Football Association (PFA) was not averse to having independent directors, but argued that they should be from the ranks of former footballers:

If you think we must have an independent person, well that would be good if that independent person were somebody like Paul [Elliott] or the trustees we have, your Chris Powells, your Garth Crooks, loads of lads.[83]

49.  The PFA was, however, keener on increasing the range of representation on the Board to include themselves, the LMA and supporters. Both the PFA and LMA felt that improving the inclusivity of the Board would assist challenge and good decision-making in the wider interests of football. A number of supporter organisations also looked for a greater range of representation on the Board along the lines proposed by the PFA.

50.  We asked the FA what its plans were with regard to the main Board. Roger Burden, a national game representative on the Board, and former acting Chairman, commented that the FA's response to the Burns review, agreeing to have an independent Chairman but not independent directors, had appeared to be a sensible compromise at the time. He remained unconvinced that a case had been made for independent directors.[84] This very cautious approach to reform would appear to substantiate claims that national game representatives have acted as a brake on change.

51.  By contrast, both FA Chairman David Bernstein and his General Secretary Alex Horne accepted the pressing need for further reform, though David Bernstein did add the caveat that "the change needs to be for the right reasons and at the right pace".[85] Alex Horne advised that "we have already put recommendations for further independent directors on the Board".[86] In June the FA announced that both the FA Board and FA Council had approved the principle of appointing two independent non-executive directors to the FA Board. The proposal still, however, needs the ratification of an Extraordinary General Meeting of FA Shareholders, which will take place in August. David Bernstein stressed that approval of independent directors was an important first step to improving governance within the FA. The Sports Minister welcomed the fact that David Bernstein was progressing with change to the Board structure. However, he warned that, with the addition of two independent executives (which would bring the total Board representation up to 14 unless there is further change), the Board would be in danger of becoming unwieldy: "I think the best sort of boards are eight to ten and have a significant number of non-executives on them".[87]

52.  The Football Association is the national governing body of English football. It needs urgent reform to carry out its responsibilities effectively and meet the future challenges of the game. We welcome FA Chairman David Bernstein's commitment to reforming his Board in pursuit of stronger governance, and the support he is receiving from the Premier League and Football League. We accept the value of Premier League, Football League and national game representation on the Board, but recommend that the Board be constructed so that vested interests do not predominate. As the governing body of the game, the FA needs to be able to set the strategic direction for English football. To do this, it needs to be more than just an "association of interests".

53.  We recommend two further FA executive staff onto the Board, in addition to the two non-executives, which we trust the shareholders will ratify in August. We would want the two executives to bring wider football matters to the table. One of these should be the Director of Football Development.

54.   We recommend that the FA Board reduces to two professional game representatives (one each from Premier League and Football League) and two national game representatives, one of whom should be able to represent the non-League football pyramid.

55.  There is a need to strike a balance between an FA Board with a strong representative element and a Board that is small enough to function effectively. Our recommendations would result in a Board of ten, consisting of the Chairman, General Secretary, two further executives, two non-executives, two professional game representatives and two national game representatives. While we can see the arguments in favour of representation from other important stakeholders such as supporters, footballers and league managers, we believe the arguments in favour of a more streamlined Board are stronger.

56.  The reconstructed FA Board should reconsider whether the 50:50 divide of surplus revenues should be scrapped in order to allow it to take strategic decisions regarding the distribution of FA funds. In any event, the FA Board should have greater flexibility to part-fund organisations such as Supporters Direct, the Football Foundation and other initiatives. Given the current availability of alternative sources of revenue for the professional game, we would not expect the national game to receive less than 50% of surplus FA revenue.

Reform of the FA Council

57.  In addition to proposals to reform the FA Board, we also received proposals to reform wider FA structures. One issue highlighted was the need to reform the FA Council. The FA's vision document for 2008-2012, published in May 2008, states that, following Lord Burns' independent review, the FA Council has been re-energised and made more broadly representative to become the parliament of football.[88] Dr Malcolm Clarke, who sits on the FA Council as the fans' representative, questioned whether the FA Council, as currently constituted, is able to play the two roles that Lord Burns envisaged for it: holding the Board to account and debating the key issues in the game. He highlighted the following structural weaknesses:

  • The Council is too big, with 118 members, which prevents serious discussion.
  • Almost a quarter of its members are Vice-Presidents or Life Presidents. Life Presidents are those who have served 20 years on the Council and have reached the age of 72. Vacancies are backfilled. Lord Burns suggested a Council of Honour to recognise the contribution of longstanding members of Council, but this was not adopted.
  • The format of Council meetings: the approval or otherwise of Board and Committee minutes without background papers or written reports hinders assessment of decisions taken.
  • The Council only meets five times a year, so a number of the decisions for consideration are past their sell-by date.
  • There is no time for extended debate, as meetings start at 11.00 am and finish with lunch.
  • The Council lacks diversity. There are only two women and two non-white members. Two-thirds of the Council are over 64. Although there is an age limit of 75, this does not apply to 24 members who were on the Council in 1990.[89]

It does not appear that all the recommendations proposed by Lord Burns for reform of the Council, including with regard to inclusivity and the format of meetings, have been implemented.

58.  We appreciate the invaluable work that Council members do at the grass roots of the game. However, we share many of Malcolm Clarke's concerns, particularly with regards to the inclusiveness of the Council. In addition we are surprised at the number of FA committees which report to the Council rather than the Board. According to the FA's vision document, no less than fourteen committees, including the Football Regulatory Authority and a Committee on Women's Football, report direct to the Council rather than the FA Board. This would appear to act against the FA Board assuming control of the strategic direction of the FA. Moreover, if the purpose of the Council is to act as a parliament of football, then we struggle to comprehend why a shareholders meeting needs to be convened to give further ratification of governance decisions already proposed by the Board and ratified by the Council. In this context, it is noteworthy that Lord Burns in his review recommended that "Council be conducted as though it were the shareholder body (eg in terms of debating the annual report), in addition to its functions as the 'Parliament' of football."[90] He also observed that "in an ideal world it is unlikely that there would be a case for creating two distinct oversight bodies for the FA. Rather it would seem sensible to align the shareholding and the Council".[91]

59.  It is interesting to contrast the rather unwieldy structure of the FA with that of the Premier League where 20 shareholders have one vote each (with the FA's share entitling it to limited voting rights) and there are no committees. The simplicity and clarity of this structure have undoubtedly been factors in the Premier League's rapid and substantial progress since its formation.

60.  A review of the FA Council should take a particular look at length of tenure. Particularly given the pace of change in the game, there may be merit in limiting length of tenure on the Council to ensure that it is continually refreshed. Lord Burns, in his review, observed that "it is not clear that the system of life members, elected Vice Presidents and Life Vice-Presidents is the appropriate way to reward long service".[92] The FA Council has, however, retained Life Vice Presidents and Vice-Presidents. The issue of length of tenure may well have wider applicability, given the extent to which individuals in football occupy positions of influence for prolonged periods. The Financial Reporting Council's UK Corporate Governance Code places an emphasis on "the value of ensuring that committee membership is refreshed and that undue reliance is not placed on particular individuals should be taken into account in deciding chairmanship and membership of committees".[93]

61.  The principle that the FA Council should act as the parliament of football is a good one. However, the FA Council as currently constructed is not fit for this purpose. We recommend that the FA review again the composition of the FA Council to improve inclusivity and reduce average length of tenure. We would not expect Council members to serve for more than ten years. The reformed Council should review the format of its meetings. It should also absorb the shareholder role. Although the shareholder body is larger than the Council, there is a high degree of overlap between the two constituencies, including the Football Associations of Oxford and Cambridge Universities and the three Armed Services, as well as the County Football Associations, the Premier League and Football League.

62.  We recommend that the FA Board review the appropriateness of the current committee structure to support the governance of the FA and football in general. All Committees should report to the Board not the Council.

63.  We recommend that the Leagues, particularly the Premier League and Football League, consider adopting a similar approach to tenure limits as we are recommending for the FA Council, and is already applied to the tenure of the FA Chairman.

Other Committee reforms

64.  David Bernstein and Alex Horne made it clear to us that, once the two independent directors proposal had been ratified, and their future role in the wider governance of the game established, they intended to review the FA's wider committee structure. We have concerns that the current National Game Board/Professional Game Board distinction below the FA Board works against strategic decision-making. At present neither Board is fully representative of stakeholders. The National Game Board consists of Roger Burden (Chairman), 12 County affiliates, one non-League divisional representative and an English schools representative. Key components of the national game, such as supporters, footballers, women's football and diversity in football are not represented, and the non-league pyramid appears under-represented. The Professional Game Board consists of Sir Dave Richards (Chairman), three Premier League representatives and three Football League representatives. Key components of the national game, such as fans, footballers, league managers and diversity in football are not represented. Perhaps even more fundamentally, the fact that no other committees, with the partial exception of the Football Regulatory Authority, report directly to the FA Board creates a risk of isolating issues to the extent that important cross-cutting issues are either considered partially by one of the two Boards or not at all. Potential cross-cutting issues include technical matters, youth development, the FA Cup and international football.

65.  There is an absence of FA staff input on the National Game Board and Professional Game Board. The FA Board appears effectively to have ceded influence in two key financial decision-formulating bodies to two separate "bunkers", comprising separate vested interests. We urge the FA to consider whether the National Game Board and Professional Game Board, as currently configured, promote strategic decision making. We say this for the following reasons:

  • The structure has only been in place for about ten years and it is difficult to conclude that the FA's strategic performance has improved in that time. It has certainly added a tier of bureaucracy to an already crowded space.
  • Evidence suggests that the structure was only put in place to reflect the 50:50 revenue split between the professional game and the national game with the respective boards having responsibility for allocating the money. We have already recommended that this 50:50 split should be reconsidered.
  • The FA has core responsibilities which do not naturally follow the professional game/national game split. The most important of these are the development of players and coaches. The development model requires a strong pyramid with grassroots at the base and the national team at the apex. It does not require two pyramids sitting side by side. We have already recommended that the FA should appoint a technical director who sits on the Board and this should be supported by an appropriate and streamlined committee structure. We are surprised that the FA no longer has a Technical Committee to take overall responsibility for development and it is difficult to see where responsibility ultimately sits in the current structure.

37   R v Football Association Ltd, ex parte Football League Ltd; Football Association ltd v Football League Ltd Back

38   Q 586 Q 587 Back

39   HC Deb, 8 September 2010, col 73WH Back

40   Q 796 Back

41   Q 499 Back

42   Q 622 Back

43   Q 500 Back

44   Q 503 Back

45   Q 501 Back

46   "Football Association must be called to account over Wembley debts", The Guardian, 15 September 2010 Back

47   Q 453 Back

48   Q 454 Back

49   Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, Fourth Report of Session 2005-06, Women's Football, HC 1357 Back

50   Ev w75 Back

51   Ev w205 Back

52   Q 750 Back

53   Ev w4 Back

54   Ev w71 Back

55   Q 138 Back

56   Ev 228 Back

57   Q 141 Back

58   Ev w214 Back

59   Q 29 Back

60   Q 36 Back

61   Q 40 Back

62   Q 346 Back

63   Ibid Back

64   Q 347 Back

65   Q 365 Back

66   Q 350 Back

67   Q 362 Back

68   Q 27 Back

69   Q 36 Back

70   Q 364 Back

71   Q 397 Back

72   Ibid Back

73   Q 368 Back

74   Q 37 Back

75   Q 49 Back

76   Q 36 Back

77   Q 50 Back

78   Q 102 Back

79   Q 597 Back

80   Q 598 Back

81   Q 588 Back

82   Q 595 Back

83   Q 142 Back

84   Q 537 and Q 546 Back

85   Q 448 Back

86   Q 450 Back

87   Q 814 Back

88   Football Association, The FA's Vision 2008-12: A world-class organisation with a winning mentality, May 2008, p 16 Back

89   Ev 184 Back

90   Lord Burns, FA Structural Review: details of proposals, August 2005, p 9 Back

91   Ibid  Back

92   Ibid p 11  Back

93   Financial Reporting Council, UK Corporate Governance Code, June 2010,p15 Back

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Prepared 29 July 2011