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Last Updated: Monday, 2 August, 2004, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
Why the FA scandal matters
By Tom Fordyce

Think the Football Association scandal has nothing to do with the football you love? Think that Sven-Goran Eriksson's exoneration means we can all go back to normal?

Think again.

The fall-out from the resignation of Mark Palios has direct implications on the England team, the professional game you watch and the amateur game as you play it.

Here's why.

RUNNING THE GAME

You might barely recognise Palios, and have little idea what his job at the FA entailed.

WHAT THE FA DOES
Runs the England team
Organises the FA Cup
Oversees coaching and referees
In charge of grassroots amateur game
Represents English football with Fifa and Uefa
Looks after football's laws

But he had more influence on football in England than almost any other man.

When Palios took over in July 2003, the FA was in serious financial trouble.

A fifth of its staff had been made redundant, the proposed 50m National Football Centre in Burton was on hold owing to a funding crisis and angry Premiership chairman were demanding a full audit of the FA's finances.

Palios, a financial trouble-shooter for much of his business career, stemmed the losses and made the most of revenue sources.

This meant many of the FA's projects, from the England team to talent development schemes, did not face further cut-backs.

Palios also soothed the club versus country row which crippled his predecessor Adam Crozier and led to serious problems between Sven-Goran Eriksson and some Premiership managers.

Palios apart, the present scandal has also damaged the reputation of the FA and called into question whether those who remain are up to the task.

The FA runs English football. Yet it has proved incapable of dealing with a small private matter involving two of its staff.

It is now an organisation without leadership, split by serious internal strife and with an public image that is little short of embarrassing.

THE POISONED CHALICE

Who would want to work for the FA?

That might sound like an exaggeration, but the last two chief executives have left the job in such dismal circumstances that few of the potential candidates would touch an application form with a barge pole.

Palios wasn't wanted by some at the FA in the first place.

Sven-Goran Eriksson in pensive mood
Will Sven still want to work for the FA?

The first choice was Peter Littlewood, an executive at US company Mars, but he declined the FA's offer.

Crozier resigned because he did not feel that he had the support of FA chairman Geoff Thompson and other key council members.

The man with the best qualifications for Palios' old role is Richard Scudamore, the highly-regarded chief executive of the Premier League.

But Scudamore is understood not to be interested, in large part because of the shambolic internal politics at the FA.

In short, the sort of candidate the FA requires - a highly-experienced individual from a top-ranking business background - has almost no reason to want the job.

The problem is exactly the same with any potential vacancy for the national coach's job.

England managers have always taken a battering from the national media - Bobby Robson over his contract to manage PSV post-Italia 90, Graham Taylor over his resemblance to a root vegetable, Terry Venables for his business deals and Glenn Hoddle for his unusual non-football beliefs.

Sven has now had his personal life spread all over the tabloids on three separate occasions.

The Faria Alam affair also revealed that Eriksson's employers were ready to dish dirt on him to a Sunday tabloid to protect their own man.

Had he gone, who would have wanted to take over and accept that poisoned chalice?

In other words, the two jobs most important to securing a bright future for English football will very possibly not be able to attract the right person in the future.

And that spells problems - big problems - for the English game.




VOTE RESULTS
Do you trust the FA to run English football properly?
Yes - this is just a storm in a teacup
12%
No - they are bungling bosses
60%
Don't care - as long as the England team are successful
28%
64107 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Vote now closed


SEE ALSO
Palios resigns from FA
02 Aug 04  |  Football
Davies backs Eriksson
02 Aug 04  |  Internationals
Taylor fears for Eriksson
02 Aug 04  |  Football



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