Written evidence submitted by Ian Watmore |
I am writing this note in advance of my appearance
before your Committee tomorrow.
Coincidentally, it was a year ago tomorrow that my
resignation from the FA was first made public. I have not discussed
football in public since, preferring instead to concentrate on
my new role in the Cabinet Office and Number 10 helping the Coalition
I should like to start by saying I have no personal
animosity towards the FA or anyone within it. They were kind enough
to invite me in to their fold as CEO, and it was my choice, and
my choice alone, to leave the job a year later.
But I am pleased that you are considering what to
recommend to the Government in order to create a model for football
governance in England, one that is fit for the 21st Century. Whether
the football public in England play, coach, referee, spectate
or participate in some other way, they surely deserve a better
system than we have today.
I should also like to acknowledge the staff at the
FA who suffer daily under the public perception that the FA is
dysfunctional and incompetent. However critical I think you must
be about the governance of the FA, this must not apply to the
In my experience, the staff at the FA are talented,
hard working, modern in outlook, energetic and diverse, relatively
lowly paid, passionate about what they do, and great fun to work
with. They achieve so much, often in unsung ways, and I can't
speak too highly of them.
It is obviously for you to decide what to recommend
based upon the evidence you receive. But central to your recommendations
should be that football in England need not be a constant set
of battles between the main protagonists. For example, it ought
to be possible to have:
a strong FA and a thriving Premier League;
successful, multinational Clubs and winning
England teams; and
global leadership for men's football and a
fast growing and popular game for women.
In my evidence, I will argue that the role of Government
and Parliament at this time should be threefold:
to set strategic objectives for the game as a whole;
to create an FA that is totally independent of its
so called vested interests; and
to give the FA (and other football bodies) clarity
over its role
I have listed the main points that I think should
be recommended under each of these headings.
But if there is one recommendation of mine that
supersedes all others, it would be to create a totally Independent
FA Board to lead the whole game in this country, free to spend
its money as it thinks fit, and with full transparency to the
Once the Committee has reported, its recommendations
must then be implemented in full and at pace. The menu should
be seen as a table d'hote menu, rather than á la carte.
As we found after the Burns review, allowing each recommendation
to be considered on its own and then either ignored or implemented
in a piecemeal way, leads to glacial progress or distorted change.
Even if people want to go back to the original Burns
recommendations, time has moved on, and just doing Burns would,
in my judgement, be insufficient. We now need to be in a Burns-plus
erawith full independence for the FA Board and staff from
the FA Council and the professional game, with control over how
it spends its own funds. If the Committee needs to be convinced,
just imagine how little Ofcom would achieve with Sky, BT and the
BBC on its Board?
Can an Independent FA really be created without a
footballing civil war? The Balkanised state of football governance
today might suggest not, and almost certainly not without external
intervention from Parliament. But we have tried other means, and
few believe that what we have ended up with is remotely fit for
On this basis I have concluded that the FA Council
should give substantial further decision making ground to the
Independent Board and the FA Executive. The FA Councillors from
the counties are an extraordinarily decent group of people who
have put their lives into football for minimal or no financial
reward. There are many other Councillors, such as the Chair of
the LMA, and the CEO of the PFA, whom I also admire greatly. They
collectively have much wisdom; they have a major role to play
on many fronts, and should always be consulted widely by the FA
I have also seen references to "the governing
bodies" to include the Premier League and UEFA. There are,
in fact, only two governing bodies in any country playing footballFIFA
and the local version of the FA. It is essential to reassert that
principle of football governance in England. The Premier League
is a fantastic global competition, but it is not a governing body.
UEFA is a confederation of national associations. Both use their
competition rules to influence behaviour from their participant
clubs. But this should not be confused with the strategic and
regulatory role of the world and national associations.
Finally, I have recommended that the FA funding formula
be ended, so that all monies earned by the FA (and not spent on
its direct operations and competitions) can be channelled into
football development and not distributed 50:50 with the Premier
League/Football League as at present. This money would be under
the control of the Independent FA. It would primarily be channelled
through the national game and the National Football Centre to
meet strategic objectives, but also used to help fund the contribution
from referees, players and managers, and geographically strategic
clubs in localities not well served by top Clubs.
Each time the reputation of the FA appears to hit
rock bottom, the next year it starts to drill. It is time to reverse
The FA will be 150 years old in 2013. For its special
anniversary, the FA should be celebrating an exciting new future,
rather than apologising for the previous 50 years of hurt, as
Baddiel and Skinner might put it. With your help, the new Chairman,
David Bernstein, can lead the FA back into the sunlight.
I look forward to the Select Committee tomorrow.
1. Overall Strategic Football Objectives:
(1) Strong, unified governance for the whole
game, respected in its own country and influential abroad.
(2) Thriving national game for all ages, abilities,
(3) Winning England teamsmen's, women's,
all ages, other eg disabledwith a strong pipeline of playing
and coaching talent.
(4) World leading sustainable Premier League
clubs for men and Super League clubs for women.
(5) Sustainable strength in depth for other professional
and semi-professional leagues.
(6) Outstanding, accessible and safe stadia,
pitches and other facilities.
(7) Investing in the future of the English gameskills,
coaching, refereeing, international relations, facilities, science,
medicine, digital, technology...
2. FA Governance Recommendations:
(1) Board of FA to be totally independent of
its interested partiesie no "representative"
or "vested interest" delegates on the Board.
(2) Board of FA to contain (say) six voting Executives(Note
1.)........Plus (say) six voting Non Executives, totally independent
of current club, league, county or other footballing interests(Note
(3) Current FA funding model to be endedso
that all monies earned by FA and not spent on its direct operations
and competitions to be channelled into football development through
(primarily) the national game, National Football Centre, LMA,
PFA and strategically located clubs, and not split 50:50 with
the Premier League and Football League as at present.
(4) FA Council to cede more decision making to
Independent Board and FA Executivebut still to be consulted
widely and play significant representative role in international
tournaments, in disciplinary hearings, at Wembley, at National
Game finals etc and be great honour for all who achieve Councillor
(5) Primary governance role to be reasserted
for FA direct through to FIFA. Premier and Football Leagues are
not governing bodies. Similarly UEFA is Confederation, not an
intermediate governance layer between FA and FIFA.
(6) Board and staff of FA to be representative
of the football population it serves and to be diverse in age,
female, BME and other relevant terms.
(7) Independent nominations body to appoint FA
Chairman and assist in Non Exec Appointments.
(8) Create influential, but non-binding, FA Stakeholder
Group(s) with representative delegateseg Supporters, Club
owners, Players, Managers and coaches, Referees, Media, Sponsors,
(9) Current Football Regulatory Authority to
move inside FAto set regulatory policy etc -under the guidance
of the Independent Board.
(10) Current Compliance Unit to move outside
FAthus not controlled by the FA Boardheaded by independent
football Commissionerto make decisions about breaches of
discipline and regulations, apply sanctions, and hear appeals
(11) Total transparency of operations, finances,
policies, decisions... probably scrutinised by Football Ombudsman
or similar reporting periodically to Parliament and the public.
Note 1probably CEO, MD Club England, Men's
Football Director, Women's Football Director, Football Services/Regulation
Director, Head of National Game and be attended by finance director
and company secretary.
Note 2probably Independent Chairman, Independent
Football Leader, Education and Skills, Marketing/Communications,
Regulatory/Legal, Finance/Accounting/Commercial (all experienced
Board members from football, business or public service).
3. Clarity of role and remit for FA: eg:
(1) To govern and set the regulatory framework
for all football in England, so as to achieve Strategic Objectives
(2) To participate positively in FIFA and UEFA
over the long term to support the interests of all English football,
and assist in the global development and administration of the
(3) To part fund and assist the national game
(pretty much as per today's National Game strategy).
(4) To promote respect and diversity throughout
the gamekicking out racism, sexism, disability discrimination,
homophobia, faith discrimination.
(5) To develop the managers and coaches and coaching/playing
philosophy of the future (pretty much as per new St. George's
(6) To develop the referees and assistants of
the future at all levels of the game.
(7) To monitor and grow the pipeline of playing
talent for all the national teamsall ages, genders, disability
(8) To manage and support all England teams in
competition and friendlies.
(9) To run FA competitions collaboratively with
other competition organisers eg PL, FL, UEFA.
(10) To manage the national stadiumwith
football (not rugby or rock concerts) at its heart.
(11) To secure specialist investment in the future
of the English gameskills, facilities, science, medicine,