Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has pledged to improve governance of the English game’s ruling body ahead of a parliamentary committee debate into potential legislation to reform the organisation.
The Culture, Media and Sport (CMS) committee debate will take place at the House of Commons on February 9, with a motion of “no confidence” in the FA’s ability to reform itself. It comes four months after sports minister Tracey Crouch gave the FA six months to overhaul its board and council or risk losing funding.
The FA, the world’s oldest football federation, risks losing around £30 million ($37.5 million, 34.8 million euros) from funding body Sport England. But Clarke insists he is willing to put forward plans to overhaul FA governance and said he would resign if those suggestions were rejected by the Government.
“Our governance needs changing. We do need to be more diverse, more open about decision-making and we do need to better represent those playing the game. But we are not sitting idly by,” Clarke said in an FA statement on Tuesday.
“The FA has a set of proposals to improve our governance which we will ratify and then take to the Minister of Sport in order to get her approval.
“Change won’t be easy, but I am confident it will happen and it will be substantial. Delivering real change is my responsibility and I firmly believe this is critical for the future of the game.
“If the Government is not supportive of the changes when they are presented in the coming months, I will take personal responsibility for that. I will have failed.
“I will be accountable for that failure and would in due course step down from my role.”
Five former senior FA executives have criticised the organisation for failing to “self-reform”. David Bernstein, David Davies, Greg Dyke, Alex Horne and David Triesman said the FA was outdated, held back by “elderly white men” and unable to counter the power of the Premier League.
But, while Clarke is willing to consider changes to the FA’s governance, he disagrees with the suggestion that they are failing football at present. “I don’t believe that The FA is failing football. That’s completely different,” he said.
“In fact I strongly dispute the motion put in front of Parliament that The FA is not meeting its duties as a governing body.
“I do hope that those attending on Thursday make themselves aware of The FA’s duties and the great work we are actually doing.
“Our duties require us to promote, develop and invest in the game; and whilst I freely admit that our governance needs improvement, it doesn’t prevent us from supporting the game from top to bottom.
“I am also confident that when the time comes to present our changes to the Minister, she will agree that we are making positive and pro-active change.”