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Wednesday, December 16, 1998 Published at 00:12 GMT

Sport: Football

Kelly denies 'skulking' out of the back door

Graham Kelly (left), pictured with Keith Wiseman (right) on a recent visit to Downing Street

Graham Kelly, who has resigned as chief executive of the Football Association, has denied any wrong-doing.

The chief executive of the players' union, Gordon Taylor, says Kelly's departure will be bad for confidence at the FA
Mr Kelly, who has been clearing his desk at the FA's Lancaster Gate headquarters after a row over a £3.2m loan to the Welsh FA, said he was not "skulking out" of the back door.

He was speaking as the head of the government's football task force David Mellor described the FA as "ramshackle" and "wholly inadequate" to run the modern national game.

Mr Kelly said: "I'm very sorry indeed that it's ended with me walking out of here tonight. But I'm certainly not going to skulk out of the back door. I'm walking out of the front door."

The executive committee of the FA has also passed a vote of no confidence in chairman Keith Wiseman, after allegations he approved the loan. He has declined to resign.

Mr Kelly said: "We had an issue where we couldn't take the executive committee with us, notwithstanding that we'd acted entirely in the best interests of the FA throughout and tried to do what was best for the FA in every respect.

"We weren't able to convince our executive of that and the end result is that I've resigned on agreed terms."

'It's a big disappointment'

Mr Kelly, whose duties will be taken on for the moment by the FA's director of public affairs David Davies, said: "I'm not embarrassed, but it's certainly a very big disappointment for me personally."

Nick Harris of The Independent says David Davies could be the "Tony Blair of football politics"
He insisted he had done nothing wrong and said: "I resigned because at the end of a lot of discussions we were unable to convince the executive committee of the appropriateness of what we did.

"But I certainly believe that everything we did was in the very best interests of the Football Association and of English football."

Mr Kelly, 52, said he was confident his departure would not jeopardise England's bid to host the 2006 World Cup.

He said: "There's no reason why this should cause it any damage, provided that everybody pulls round and stays behind the bid.

"The bid is not the FA's bid, it is for England. It's backed by the government, the Premier League and the Sports Council, and as such there's an awful lot riding on it."

Mr Kelly, who failed to make the grade as a footballer with his beloved Blackpool, did not say whether he planned to take legal advice over his position. He also declined to discuss his future plans.

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