Top Football Association role appears unlikely to go to a former player

By PA Sport Staff
·3-min read

The Football Association is unlikely to appoint a former player as its new chairman, the PA news agency understands.

Greg Clarke resigned from the role on Tuesday after making a series of offensive remarks in an appearance before a parliamentary committee.

The likes of Paul Elliott, the chairman of the FA’s inclusion advisory board, and QPR director of football Les Ferdinand have been linked with the job.

Paul Elliott is the chairman of the FA's inclusion advisory board
Paul Elliott is the chairman of the FA’s inclusion advisory board (John Stillwell/PA).

However, it is understood that, despite a desire on the part of the FA to have more football representation on its board, an ex-professional is unlikely to have the exacting qualities and qualifications deemed necessary to fulfil the role.

It is believed the FA wants the new boss to have experience of managing a board and running a major company, with an appointment expected by the end of March.

PA understands Ferdinand is focused on his role at QPR in any case.

Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA’s director of women’s football, has been mentioned as another possible candidate to succeed Clarke and former England striker Kelly Smith says she has all the “expertise and experience” needed to step into the role.

Baroness Sue Campbell has a wealth of experience from her time at UK Sport
Baroness Sue Campbell has a wealth of experience from her time at UK Sport (Chris Radburn/PA)

Smith, England’s record goalscorer from 117 caps, feels the 72-year-old former UK Sport chair, who helped oversee the hugely successful performance of Team GB at London 2012, ticks all the boxes for the FA’s senior leadership role.

“She certainly has got the level of expertise and experience,” Smith told the PA news agency.

“(However), I am not too sure she would want that role, she is due to maybe retire (soon) having done all the good work that she has done within the FA so far.

“But she would be an ideal candidate, (with) her experience over the years and knowledge of working with UK Sport.

“I don’t know what other names have been put forward, but there is an array of candidates I believe.”

Former Arsenal forward Smith, a Barclays football ambassador, added: “It definitely (should be about) the right person for the job, whether they are male or female.

“If they have that experience to move the game forward, to put things in place which will work, and get enough education out there into the clubs from grassroots up to the elite level.

“It is a difficult one, but I am sure they will appoint the right person.”

Clarke, who has also stood down as a vice-president of the game’s world governing body FIFA, apologised during the appearance in front of MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee for using the word “coloured”.

Greg Clarke resigned from his position as FA chairman
Greg Clarke resigned from his position as FA chairman (PA Media)

He also said South Asians had “different career interests” to people from an Afro-Caribbean background, suggested a person’s sexuality was a “life choice” and recounted an anecdote about being told girls were afraid of having a football kicked at them.

Clarke’s comments are understood to have left many FA employees angered and the appointment of the succeeding chairperson is now seen as a defining one within the organisation.

It is believed different recruitment firms will be utilised in the hopes of bringing in more diverse candidates for the role.

The FA has appointed professional game board chair Peter McCormick as Clarke’s interim replacement.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham confirmed the aim is to have a permanent successor to Clarke in place by “the end of the first quarter” of next year.