Martin Smith column: Revolution needed at ‘old boys’ FA

Greg Dyke
Greg Dyke
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The FA. Get rid of the lot of them.

Who says so?

The FA, or at least five of it’s former executives, all elderly white men who blame other elderly white men for the association’s inability to reform itself.

Not since Sheffield FC sent four representatives to the FA’s founding meeting in the Freemason’s Tavern in Great Queen Street, London, in October 1863 has the association been in such a state.

It’s a 19th-century organisation with a mid-20th-century mindset trying to run the 21st century’s most powerful sport. We have the richest league on the planet and a national team that has won nothing in 50 years.

It’s not working, is it?

Five of the men brought in to help remedy that imbalance - David Bernstein, David Davies, Greg Dyke, Alex Horne and David Triesman - say the FA has failed to “self-reform” and have asked Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee to propose legislation to reform the association.

Their letter to the committee said: “There are some 25 life vice-presidents on the FA Council - all elderly white men - who do not represent anyone but block even the most minor of changes.”

These include senior vice-presidents Barry Taylor, honorary life president of Barnsley FC, Geoff Thompson, of Sheffield and Hallamshire FA, Sir Dave Richards, former Sheffield Wednesday chairman, and Terry Annable who has been handing out end-of-season medals in Nottinghamshire since 1967.

Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with elderly white men, I intend to be one myself one day, but this isn’t 1952, which is what former FA chairman Greg Dyke said the FA felt like when he took over.

The women’s game is huge and growing, the ethnic mix of the country has changed and the expectations and aspirations of fans, grassroots players and youth footballers are not being met as they should.

The founding members of the FA and generations of administrators since have no doubt had the best interests of the game at heart.

But, as with the British Empire, Woolworth’s and X-Factor, there comes a time when the old structures are no longer relevant or sustainable.

The FA is essentially being held together by those senior members who oppose change.

For the good of the game in the home of football that can’t be allowed to go on.