FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION Chairman Greg Clarke got his retaliation in first with a ‘back me or I resign’ response to early doors criticism by MPs on the pending possible loss of £30million from Sport England (over a lack of independent directors on FA executive board).
Under new standards for sports governance introduced by government in October 2016 the FA must have an executive board with at least 25% of its directors being independent. With a keen eye for the funding maths rather than the spirit of these governance standards, Greg Clarke proposes to reduce the size of the board from 10 to 12 members as well as reserve three board places for women, albeit in the future (sometime in 2018!).
Though this Clarke diversity-lite agenda was unanimously endorsed by the “men in blazers” on the FA Council, whether or not this jam tomorrow approach is effective or, indeed, manages to satisfy Sport England and/or the MPs we will shortly elect to make this decision remains to be seen.
After his demand to be judged by his results, Clarke has also been quick to seize upon and (rightly) criticise the discriminatory attitudes of David Moyes. Commenting upon Moyesgate Clarke was quick to tell reporters at the UEFA Congress in Helsinki - "It was regrettable, it was distasteful, and I think it showed a complete lack of respect. And we in the game stand for respect" – but then took time to act.
However, if (as the Chinese claim) a fish really does rot from the head down, Clarke appears keen to go for quick wins against easy opposition – David Moyes and also Joey Barton - rather than test himself against the best, if judged by ongoing and current FA complacency over more intractable matters such as the ongoing sexual abuse allegations. According to award winning Football Journalist of the Year Daniel Taylor (whose reporting helped break and explain the full extent of the scandal), legal niceities and official complacency continues to dog the Clarke era FA and loudly echo the obstruction, denial and dropped investigations of the past.
Independent Directorship governance expert Gerry Brown comments, “Clearly independent executive and governance questions remain for Football Association Chairman Greg Clarke to address when it comes to the independence and governance of the FA Executive as well as future Sport England funding. Worryingly, if we are to judge him by his actions rather than the organization he inherited some time ago now, Clarke’s FA show speed and zeal to judgmentally issue virtue signaling comment to the media or go for low hanging fruit by starting easier to manage/control internal disciplinary proceedings. In contrast, however, they investigate and deal with significant and troubling external situations so slowly that their inaction (and lack of updates) more strongly suggests managerial ineptitude rather than measured carefully considered examination and analysis.”
Brown continues, “Though obviously legally complex and while, of course, due process is vitally important, the very serious matters surrounding child abuse within English football and the FA response to those allegations and investigations fall to Greg Clarke to lead. So far, his leadership and good governance has been conspicuous by its absence. The lack of updates or public statements – beyond the usual boilerplate ‘unable to comment upon ongoing Police investigations’ - also speaks very loudly to perceptions of inadequate governance.”