March 7th 2017
Desperate Men?

With the words of Damian Collins MP back in early February no doubt still ringing in their ears, the FA let everyone know about their blueprint for change yesterday.

Last month, Damian Collins, the Culture Media And Sport Secretary said this: “The FA, to use a football analogy, are not only in extra time, they are at the end of extra time, in ‘Fergie time’. They are 1-0 down and if they don’t pick up fairly quickly, reform will be delivered to them.”

So yesterday the world’s most archaic sporting organisation announced exactly how they intended to reform and those who were waiting for dynamism will be sadly disappointed.

Here’s what they are going to do:

Establish three positions on the FA board reserved for female members by 2018

Reduce the size of the board to 10 members

Add 11 new members to the FA Council so it “better reflects the inclusive and diverse nature of English football”

Limit board membership to three periods of three years

Introduce term limits for FA Council membership

Hardly a blockbuster, really is it?

At a time when real change was needed all the greyest  of grey of grey men in the greyest of grey suits managed to do was “better reflect the inclusive nature of English Football”. Maybe they’ll give a praise to anyone who can work out what on this bland management speak actually means?

These piecemeal – and dare we say rather pointless – reforms have rightly met with widespread criticism. Lord Ouseley from the Kick It Out campaign dismissed them as “wishy-washy” and further added: “It won’t add any additional power and involvement in leadership roles for black and minority ethnic people. In fact, there’s no representation for disabled people, LGBT communities – it’s very superficial. “While it will look good and it is to be welcomed as some change, it won’t make any difference about where the power is, where the control is.”

Look at this graphic.


Does anyone really think that the so-called “reforms” announced will do anything to redress those awful imbalances? Does anyone think they are anything other than a desperate attempt to cling to power by an organisation that is not fit for purpose and has no relevance in the modern era.

The Premier League has the power and the prestige. They have pushed the FA into not even having replays in the FA Cup from this weekend onwards and the FA has settled for it in return for the promise of more cash and a few free lunches.

Maybe, just maybe they genuinely do believe that adding three women is genuine far-reaching reform. If they really do then, honestly there is no hope.

There is nothing in the proposals about grass roots football, where the current policies are widely acknowledged as a total and utter shambles , which shows what they think of the amateur game – but they are still happy to take the £30 million of government money in return for what they are supposed to do.

Greg Clarke – the embattled FA Chairman –  reckons he’ll resign if the government reject his proposals. He probably should resign for dreaming them up in the first place.

This, they were told, was “Fergie time”. Back a few years ago, Sir Alex would have done something bold and courageous. He was a winner. He was a football man. The FA are neither of those things.

These changes are not changes at all. They are a desperate ploy from desperate and out of touch men. Indeed, it could be argued that the only thing worse than no change at all is change for changes sake.

Andy Thorley

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