The English FA have, as expected, appointed former Manchester City chairman David Bernstein as their new chairman.
The football world has moved on and left England way behind in many areas, not least of all on the pitch, and the game gave England a huge slap in the face a few months ago when it came to the bids to host future World Cups. What the English FA needed to do therefore was appoint a man or woman who could face up to the challenges, bring in some new blood and drive the English game forward.
We needed a man who could re-open meaningful dialogue with UEFA and FIFA and restore some respect for the English game. We needed someone who knew the game inside out in relation to all aspects and who could drive forward the plans to improve coaching and improve the standards of our young players to ensure future success for the national game.
Instead, unsurprisingly, we have gone with a sixty-seven year old member of the ‘old school tie’ brigade who will be well placed to achieve none of the above.
Bernstein is a chartered accountant by trade and was the former chairman of French Connection. His involvement in football began in 1994 when he joined the board of Manchester City. He took over as chairman in 1998. His time at the helm saw City yo-yo between divisions, but he did oversee the return of the club to the Premier League under Kevin Keegan the manager he brought in.
He left the club in 2004 amidst rumours of a fall out with Keegan and concerns about the strategy of the club.
More recently Bernstein has been a director and chairman of Wembley Stadium and played a significant part in securing the stadium’s short term future.
I am not for one minute suggesting that Bernstein is not a nice man or not very good at whatever job he happens to be doing. Many Manchester City fans look back fondly on what he achieved for the club during his time there. What I am saying is that when a radical appointment was needed to shake the English game to it’s very core, Bernstein is totally the wrong man.
Bernstein was delighted to be confirmed in the role which has been vacant since Lord Triesman was forced to resign last March. Roger Burden has been acting in the role but he refused to apply for the permanent position in protest against FIFA’s actions in the World Cup bid process.
“It is a great honour. I thank the nominations committee, the board and council for placing your trust in me. I want to pay tribute to Roger who has done a tremendous job over the last eight months as acting chairman. He has seen the organisation through some challenging times and led it with great dignity and integrity. I am fortunate to be able to draw upon his experience and insight as a colleague on the board.”
“Over the past few weeks I have been doing a lot of listening. I have met many people representing all areas of football in this country to hear their thoughts and ideas on the current issues facing the game. Their input has been invaluable.
“It has confirmed my view that the FA is an outstanding organisation with talented, committed people doing a huge amount of great work of which we should be justifiably proud.
“Understandably, much of this work receives little publicity due to the focus on higher profile issues. That was particularly true in 2010.
“By bringing stability to the top of our organisation, I hope to create an environment within which all the positive work that we do is better understood and appreciated.”
He is saying the right things but I remain totally under whelmed by the appointment. I hope Bernstein proves me wrong.
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