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Dave Richards resigns from England 2018 World Cup bid

Sir Dave Richards
Richards' departure means the board now consists of six members

England's 2018 World Cup bid has suffered a setback with the surprise resignation of Sir Dave Richards.

The influential Premier League chairman informed the Football Association and bid boss Lord Triesman of his departure in a letter on Tuesday.

The news comes after a restructuring of the board on 12 November following concerns over the direction of the bid.

"I feel I can now best support a successful bid without the necessity of sitting on the board," said Richards.

On the insistence of bid chief executive Andy Anson, Richards was persuaded to join so the campaign could harness the international clout of the Premier League.

And following Richards departure, Anson admitted to BBC Sport: "It was a surprise.

World Cup bid still on track - Anson

"We thought we had sorted everything out two weeks ago, but we're not worrying about what has happened.

"It is a decision that he's made for personal reasons, the board accepted his decision and we've moved on and all we're now focusing on is campaigning efficiently and building the best possible bid we can.

"The Premier League have called me to reiterate their full support for the bid.

"We've got to stop focusing internally and as a country get behind this bid and support what we're doing out there internationally because that's what matters.

"We're chasing 24 votes. We've got a strong team chasing those votes, but we've got a real tendency to naval gaze in this country.

"We've got to forget that. We've got a strong proposition."

Richards added: "My positions as Premier League chairman, FA board member and chairman of the FA's international committee provide me with ample opportunities to bang the drum for English football, and the bid particularly, right across the world, which I will continue to do wherever and whenever I can.

"My belief is that England has all the right attributes to host a successful Fifa World Cup - our challenge now is to convince the 24 members of Fifa's executive committee of that.

"This must be our focus and priority going forward."

Richards and Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore were both ignored when Triesman initially put the bid board together.

We had hoped to create a more football-focused board so I hope someone else to represent the Premier League will now go on the bid board in his place

Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe

Richards' main value was seen to be his international contacts, particularly in Africa and Asia.

Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe, who was one of those who agreed to step down from the board earlier this month, expressed his disappointment at the resignation of Richards.

"I'm sad about it and disappointed," he said. "Dave Richards has great skills and contacts around the world, so I'm pleased he will still be in contact with the bid.

"We had hoped to create a more football-focused board so I hope someone else to represent the Premier League will now go on the bid board in his place."

Richards' exit comes after Manchester United chief executive David Gill told Reuters earlier on Tuesday that England had addressed the concerns of Fifa vice-president Jack Warner by reshuffling the board.

Last month, Warner, president of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, criticised England's bid, claiming it needed to strengthen its character and avoid the perception of "plodding along".

We've Got Robinho

But Gill, who holds an advisory role to England's bid committee, said: "A very big board is difficult to manage. The board now is much tighter and much more cohesive."

The recent changes to the bid board saw six members step down, including ex-Birmingham City director Karren Brady.

Sir Keith Mills, Sir Martin Sorrell, Simon Johnson and Sutcliffe were the others to depart in attempt to make the board less political.

In addition, former FA chairman Geoff Thompson, the only English member of Fifa's executive committee, was added to a new seven-man board, chaired by Triesman.

These changes followed criticism of the Triesman's leadership and the handling of other issues, including the gift of luxury handbags to the wives and partners of the 24 Fifa voters.

After the latest setback, bookmakers demoted England to second favourites behind Australia.

Six other bidders are in the running - Russia, Spain/Portugal, USA, Japan, Holland/Belgium, Mexico and Indonesia.

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see also
World Cup bid 'is worth 250m'
24 Nov 09 |  Bristol
England 2018 bid team streamlined
12 Nov 09 |  Football
Fifa man hands back England gift
04 Nov 09 |  Football
2018 bid gives handbags as gifts
23 Oct 09 |  Football
England 'must improve 2018 bid'
07 Oct 09 |  Football
Argentines back England Cup bid
17 Sep 09 |  Football
Triesman calls for World Cup bid support
18 May 09 |  Internationals
The race to host World Cup 2018 and 2022
17 Mar 09 |  Internationals
Pele backs England World Cup bid
07 Nov 07 |  Football

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