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Last Updated: Monday, 2 August, 2004, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
Q&A: What next in Svengate?
By Caroline Cheese

Former FA chief executive Mark Palios
Mark Palios' resignation as the Football Association's chief executive has turned what started as a tabloid kiss-and-tell into a full-scale crisis for English football's governing body.

Is Palios' departure the end of the affair or could things get even worse for the beleaguered FA?

HOW HAS IT GOT TO CRISIS POINT?

If the FA had not denied reports of an affair between Sven-Goran Eriksson and one of its own employees, Mark Palios would almost certainly still be in his job.

But since that erroneous statement a series of events, mostly of its own making, have left the FA reeling.

First, it was forced to admit the affair between Eriksson and Faria Alam did take place, and that Palios had a brief relationship with the same woman.

Next, with several members of the board embarrassed by the organisation's climbdown, chairman Geoff Thompson promised a full inquiry into how the FA came to issue the denial.

At the same time, Thompson appeared to clear Palios of any wrongdoing in the matter - despite that fact that the inquiry had not yet been concluded.

SO WHY DID PALIOS GO?

On Sunday, the News of the World alleged that FA director of communcations Colin Gibson attempted to make a deal - providing full details of Eriksson's relationship with Alam if Palios' affair was not mentioned.

In the telephone transcripts, Gibson appeared to confirm that Palios was aware of the proposal, saying: "He's keen, we're all keen, to see the deal go through."

Later on Sunday, Palios resigned as chief executive "to enable the Football Association to begin to return to normality" - but insisted he had done nothing wrong.

WHERE DOES THAT LEAVE ERIKSSON?

The claim that the FA was prepared to betray the England manager in order to protect its chief executive has left Eriksson in a stronger position in terms of public sympathy.

On Thursday, the FA's board will hold an emergency meeting at which it will decide on Eriksson's future.

Sven-Goran Eriksson
The key will be whether Eriksson denied he had had an affair, and he is alleged to have told David Davies, for whom Faria Alam worked: "This is nonsense".

That could be interpreted as denying the story was true, or ridiculing the fact he was asked about his private life in the first place.

The FA must decide whether it can sack him for gross misconduct and avoid paying him an estimated 14m in compensation.

However, several lawyers have stated that under the Human Rights Act, it is unlawful to ask an employee about his private life.

The FA will also have to consider that if he is sacked, Eriksson could drag out the situation yet further by making a claim for wrongful dismissal.

One thing is clear and that is the FA can no longer claim the moral high ground against Eriksson and it could now be accused of bringing itself into disrepute.

IS ANYONE ELSE IN THE FIRING LINE?

Gibson, the director of communications, has offered his resignation but the FA is yet to decide whether to accept it.

FA chairman Geoff Thompson is also under pressure as he issued the statement which apparently cleared Palios of wrongdoing.

And more heads could roll as the FA attempts to leave behind one of the most embarrassing episodes in its history.

WHO MIGHT REPLACE PALIOS?

David Davies, acting chief executive, is thought to be in the frame, but given his involvement in the current crisis, he may be considered damaged goods.

Sir Trevor Brooking, the FA's director of football, is also touted as a possible successor but though he would make a popular figurehead, his leadership skills are relatively untested.

Other less likely runners are chief executive of the Premier League Richard Scudamore, Ipswich chairman David Sheepshanks and Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein.

WHO MIGHT REPLACE ERIKSSON?

Brooking could be a busy man as he is also tipped to take over the England set-up if Eriksson departs.

He could be joined at the helm by Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren.


SEE ALSO
Exit Palios the enforcer
01 Aug 04  |  Football
Lampard backs Eriksson
31 Jul 04  |  Internationals
Eriksson toughs it out
30 Jul 04  |  Internationals
Grip wants quick decision
30 Jul 04  |  Internationals


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