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FA branded 'not fit for purpose' by Richard Caborn

Downcast England players

Highlights - Germany 4-1 England (UK web users only)

By Nabil Hassan

The Football Association has been branded "not fit for purpose" by former UK sports minister Richard Caborn.

The FA has lost a succession of chief executives and chairmen, while the England team also underperformed at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

"Is the FA fit for purpose? No I don't think it is," Caborn, who was sports minister for six years, told BBC Sport.

"I believe the governance of the game is not prepared to stand up to its responsibilities," added Caborn.

"The FA need to say we have to look at ourselves very seriously and we need to modernise ourselves.

"In Germany in 2000 there was a repositioning of the governance of German football. I think that has been to the benefit of German football, and we are seeing some of those results at the current World Cup."

Former Labour MP Caborn went as far as to suggest that the time had come for English football's ruling body to "franchise out" the running of the FA Cup and Wembley - the stadium's £750m redevelopment has proved a huge financial strain - leaving the FA to concentrate on governing the sport.

"Should a governing body be running that as well as governing the sport?" questioned the 66-year-old former sports minister. "What is absolutely clear is they are the assets of football and those assets should be put back into the FA."

Caborn's scathing criticism of the FA follows England's humiliating exit from the World Cup which saw Fabio Capello's side beaten 4-1 by Germany in the last 16 of the competition.


England's lacklustre performances could not have come at a worst time with the Nationwide Building Society likely this week not to renew its lucrative sponsorship deal with the FA, which has also been hampered by boardroom upheaval over the last few months.

In March, chief executive Ian Watmore left his role after less than a year in the post because of disagreements with senior figures on the FA board.

Soon after Watmore's departure, Lord Triesman stood down as chairman of the FA and the England 2018 World Cup bid after what he called "entrapment" by the Mail on Sunday newspaper.

Caborn denied that he was interested in becoming the FA's chairman - contradicting a Mail on Sunday report - but urged that when the organisation's new boss is appointed, he should be given the freedom to implement the recommendations of the Burns report of 2005.

Lord Burns' report raised concerns over conflicts of interest, a lack of representation for key groups and the excessive influence of the Premier League. Among his remedies were the creation of a "parliament of football" and three independent members on the FA board.

His proposals have still to be put in place.

"There were a whole set of recommendations from Burns that would make the FA a fit for purpose organisation," added Caborn, who believes that the FA needs a non-executive chair and a non-executive director.

"If we don't then unfortunately we are going to see a lot more of the type of debacles we saw against Germany.

"You've got to get the FA to accept that whoever is going to come in is going to have the right to implement the Burns report and be supported in doing that," said Caborn.

"It is about independent directors saying there is a time for change."

As well as the FA's inertia over the Burns report, Caborn questioned why it had failed to implement many of Richard Lewis's 2007 recommendations to improve youth football and the country's academy system.

Caborn questions FA future

"What you've got to look at is the system of development of our players through both the professional game and through the amateur game," said Caborn, who was sports minister during London's successful bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

"We have more reports and investigations then anyone else, and even though they are largely accepted they are never implemented.

"We can't just deal with the symptoms, we have to get to the root of the problem. English football and the Premier League have to come together to develop young English players."

Recently, Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan called for the Premier League to take over the running of the England team.

Caborn stopped short of going that far, but he called on the FA to start working more effectively with the Premier League for the good of the national side.

"I think it is in the interests of everyone to work in partnership rather than work against each other," said Caborn.

The FA has also been criticised for its contract negotiations with manager Capello, offering him a new deal in the run-up to the World Cup, rather than waiting to see how the Italian performed in South Africa.

But Caborn, who stood down as the MP for Sheffield Central after 17 years before the last general election, backed the FA's judgement to keep Capello.

"I'm pleased the FA have continued to support the manager, I think that is right," he said.

"Whenever we have problems it becomes a debate about the manager or the chief executive, and you can't keep getting rid of the managers and the chief executives without looking at the reasons.

"We are continually dealing with the symptoms and not the cause."

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see also
England sponsorship likely to end
05 Jul 10 |  Business
Capello to remain as England boss
02 Jul 10 |  World Cup 2010
Caborn: Is FA 'fit for purpose'?
29 Jun 10 |  Daily Politics
Pressure on FA after England exit
28 Jun 10 |  World Cup 2010
Wembley pitch consultants resign
23 Jun 10 |  Football
Horne named FA general secretary
27 May 10 |  Football
Triesman quits FA & 2018 Cup jobs
16 May 10 |  Football
FA 'should not run England team'
25 Mar 10 |  Football
FA holds talks after Watmore exit
23 Mar 10 |  Football
Watmore installed as new FA boss
18 Feb 09 |  Football
Barwick to leave post as FA chief
21 Aug 08 |  Internationals
Caborn to stand down as city MP
13 Sep 07 |  South Yorkshire
Caborn to spearhead World Cup bid
28 Jun 07 |  Football
What the Burns report says
12 Aug 05 |  Football

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