If you are the CEO of a company, you expect to have most if not all the power to make decisions. It’s down to you to drive the business, to solve problems and delegate where necessary. You’re in charge and you have the power to hire and fire.
However, the Chief Executive of the FA, while technically at the pinnacle of the FA’s structure, appears to have almost no power at all. All the power gets diffused through the various board members, council members and all of their vested interests. This is why Chief Exec Ian Watmore quit this week. This was a man who had worked in government so not unused to the machinations of big political machines but he’d had a gut full of it after 9 months.
It’s hard to actually know what the FA does. If you asked most fans they wouldn’t be able to tell you. Apart form dishing out fines for squabbling managers and players, what do they do?
In reality, the FA is supposed to be the governing body of English football, overseeing the game from top to bottom. However, at a professional level, the FA is all but powerless. It is the Premier League’s bitch; unable to stand up to the biggest, most monied organisation. Below that the Football League fights its own corner so well that clubs dropping out of the Premier League it will be receiving even more money and for four years instead of the current two.
So what is the FA doing? Well they wasted a ton of money on the whole Wembley fiasco – a money pit if there ever was one. They are making a ham-fisted job of the 2018 bid. They are ridden from top to bottom with vested interests all fighting their own corners – often merely hanging on to a morsel of perceived power for its own sake. Meanwhile football continues without them.
No one epitomizes this bloated redundancy more than Dave Richards. Richards – a knight of the realm for what it’s worth – is a walking, talking conflict of interest. Somehow – and we must assume it is simply through some form of old boys act, is chairman of the FA Premier League, member of the Football Association Board, chairman of the FA’s international committee, president of the European Professional Football Leagues organization, chairman of UEFA’s Professional Football Committee. Blimey.
Now that looks like a man who is keen to acquire titles. Those jobs either require very little effort or he is not committed to doing them comprehensively. Or possibly both. When Ian Watmore resigned this week, the rumours were all about his inability to work with Richards who, again it is rumoured, simply blocks any moves to change the organization which provides him with an infinite gravy train. But whether that’s true or not, Richards should not be on both the board of the FA and chairmen of the Premier League. It compromises both positions. Who does he side with in a dispute between those sides?
The FA should be fighting for football for us, the fans. It should not be craven to money. It should be protecting the English game for England fans and for every person in this country who loves football and wants to watch and play it. But it doesn’t do that. The Premier League and Football League and all the other minor league organizations do that for themselves. The Premier League likes an ineffective FA so it can do what it wants when it wants without protest. But the lower leagues and the non-professional part of the game needs a strong FA to help them, especially financially. But as the chairman of The Northern League, the second oldest league in the world, said this week – they are simply negligent and have done little to help the money in the top flights cascade down to the lower levels
Football will kick off this weekend and thousands of games will be played regardless of whether the FA have a Chief Executive or not and on one will care. That’s because the FA is an irrelevancy; merely an old boys club to tour the world on a permanent freebie, feeling important and doing exactly nothing. It’s a disgrace.