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Page last updated at 11:55 GMT, Thursday, 25 March 2010

Dave Whelan calls for radical FA overhaul

England's football team at Wembley earlier this month
Whelan wants the Premier League to run the England team

By Mark Orlovac

Wigan chairman Dave Whelan has called for a radical overhaul of the Football Association and even suggested the Premier League run the England team.

The FA is searching for its seventh chief executive in 11 years following Ian Watmore's shock resignation.

Whelan told BBC Sport: "Let the FA concentrate on running amateur football - the Football League and the Premier League must run the professional game.

"The sooner the Premier League run the England team the better."

The FA - which runs 24 England teams, 11 competitions and developed the new Wembley Stadium - once again saw its chief executive leave the post when Watmore quit on 19 March following disagreements with senior figures on the board.


It is also understood Watmore, who was in the job for less than a year, was unhappy with the time it took to implement reforms.

FA chairman Lord Triesman has played down talk of a crisis within the organisation in the wake of Watmore's exit, with Alex Horne's appointment in an acting capacity an attempt to provide some stability.

"The footballing side is not impacted by these things," he told BBC Sport.

But the set-up of the FA, and the role of the 12-man board in particular, has come under increasing scrutiny amid claims it is dysfunctional and needs to be reformed.

David Davies, a former acting chief executive of the FA, said as much in an interview with BBC Radio 5 live.

"The reality is that most of these chief executives have been victims, and it seems Watmore is merely the latest, of the chronic instability inherent in the way English football is run," he said.

"It (the FA) is riven by conflicts of interest and people's roles and responsibilities are either not defined at all, are blurred, or worse still, set up directly in competition with each other."

Whelan believes the FA's myriad committees makes it impossible for football's governing body in England to function effectively, with meetings sometimes swamped by more than 70 people.

Wigan are represented on one of these committees by Maurice Lindsay, the former chairman of the town's rugby league club.

"He is a very experienced man in the running of sport and he has been chief executive of the Rugby Football League, but he is appalled at how many committees there are," said Whelan.

"They are amateur people who have never been involved in the professional game at any level. We should not have amateur people giving advice to professional football clubs.

"We do want the amateur game to succeed and thrive but it should be run entirely different to the professional game."

There are many vested interests there and we have got to make sure that they look for the big picture, which is for the good of the game

Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe

The role of England manager, currently occupied by Italian Fabio Capello, is often described as a poisoned chalice, but Whelan says the role of FA chief executive is not far behind.

"It's an impossible task and I am not surprised that it's very difficult to find anybody who can run the FA properly," added Whelan, who purchased Wigan in 1995 when the club were in the old Third Division, leading them to the Premier League for the first time in 2005.

"You are dealing with the biggest professional side of football, which is the England football team and you are dealing with people playing amateur football all over England. It's very difficult to combine those together.

"The game has moved from being a purely amateur game and now it's professional.

"It's the biggest game in the world, we have the best and the biggest league in the world and you cannot expect the FA to get involved with something like the Premier League."

Leading civil servant Lord Burns was commissioned to review the FA's structure after a series of scandals in 2005.

His report led to Lord Triesman being named as the FA's first independent chairman in 2007.

But the recommendation that the FA board reduce the number of representatives from the professional and amateur games from five each to three each have not been acted on.

Lord Burns also advised appointing two independent non-executive directors to the board, but that has not yet come to fruition either.

Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe says the time has come for the FA to act upon those proposals, telling BBC Radio 5 live: "The FA has got to take a long hard look at itself and I hope we continue the Burns reforms.

"We need to have two independent directors, I believe, and I think this week has showed that.

"There are many vested interests there and we have got to make sure that they look for the big picture, which is for the good of the game."

The FA has so far given no explanation for Watmore's resignation and held emergency talks on Tuesday, naming Alex Horne, the FA's chief operating officer, as acting chief executive.

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see also
FA unrest 'will not hit 2018 bid'
23 Mar 10 |  Football
FA holds talks after Watmore exit
23 Mar 10 |  Football
Benitez hits back at Wigan chief
10 Mar 10 |  Liverpool
Watmore installed as new FA boss
18 Feb 09 |  Football
Barwick to leave post as FA chief
21 Aug 08 |  Internationals
Triesman set for FA chairman role
20 Dec 07 |  Football
Premier League opens rift with FA
12 May 05 |  Football

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