FA: Out goes Crozier


TUMULT and turmoil at the Football Association. Now based not in the West London Street of Lancaster Gate but in the vastly more costly, rent of far over �2 million a year, purlieu of Soho Square in Central London. The result of a relocation by the chief executive who has just been forced out of office, Adam Crozier, who took the decision without even bothering to consult the ruling FA Council. The kind of overbearing action, which would ultimately cost him his job. Though he has his defenders, not least a handful in the media, there is no doubt that there will be more birds coming home to roost. More decisions taken without sufficient authority. The final straw for the big Premiership clubs and their FA representatives coming when it emerged that a deal giving huge sums of money for publicity rights to the England team's players was pushed through without giving the Premiership representatives a proper chance to pass on it.

Football Association Chief Executive Adam Crozier speaks to the media in London after resigning from his post following a bitter power struggle with the Premier League.

Those who defend Crozier, a Scot, who was recruited, controversially, not from the ranks of soccer but from the high-powered advertising agency, Saatchi and Saatchi, point out that in his three-year reign he has made the FA huge sums of money. But he has also spent a fortune, not least on salaries. The average wage at the FA has zoomed up from �30,000 plus to a massive �77,000. Most of the beneficiaries being ex-marketing men whom Crozier brought in at the expense of long serving employees who, at least, had a long involvement with soccer. And Crozier himself earned well over �600,000 a year.

Whatever money the FA made under his aegis could well go up in smoke over the colossal commitment to a massively overpriced rebuilding of Wembley Stadium, which he eventually managed to force through, after endless delays. It isn't even sure that the various banks, which have committed to the project, will stay onside. The FA have assured them that when Wembley is finally completed which won't be for several years, the revenues will comfortably cover the debts. But will they? Not least when much will depend on selling the already criticised, projected "corporate" boxes at exorbitant prices.

That Crozier was appointed at all amazed me. He was well in the running when it was reported in the Press that when he had been working as an advertising executive for the Daily Telegraph, he had falsified his figures. The paper had forgiven him and kept him on, but neither he nor his agents had revealed any of this to the FA. Hearing this I spoke to one of the most senior FA executives and told him it was surely inconceivable they could now hire Crozier. The reply was that there was still plenty of time before January when the decision was to be taken. When in January the smoke cleared, Crozier was given the job.

It didn't take long before his first faux pas. Giving an after dinner speech to, of all things, a public school old boys' soccer club he was arrogantly indiscreet, revealing numerous confidential FA matters. Alas for him, the speech was tape-recorded and published in a newspaper. But he survived that.

Crozier might have survived had he not arrogantly ignored the interests of the amateur components of the Football Association, which still wield considerable voting power on vital councils and committees. The tension between amateur and pro interests in English football is all too well recorded over the decades, but when push came to shove, the amateurs had not interest in rescuing Crozier.

Just how crass his marketing men could be about the game was shown after England's two wretched European Championship qualifiers against Slovakia and Macedonia. Paul Barber, Crozier's right-hand man, somewhat strangely in charge of both marketing and communications, opined that England had made "a solid start"! You really had to wonder what planet he was living on. Barber had come to the FA from Barclays Bank and has been credited with making them lots of money. So much so that when Crozier went he was begged to stay on. But under Crozier the emphasis has always been on marketing, which leads on in turn to the crux of the affair.

Historically and essentially, the mission and remit of the FA has surely been to hold the ring, to stay above the conflict, to look after the interests of all football, both amateur and professional. The fear now that, against the bitter opposition of Crozier — and this was the real bone of contention — a Professional Board is to be set up to look after the interests of the pro game, is that the FA will virtually be neutered in this vital area, reduced to impotence where previously it had power.

But for me, this has merely been the inevitable sequel to the real sell out of the English game when, under the regime at the FA of the chief executive Graham Kelly, the coup was staged which established the FA Premier League, with the enthusiastic connivance of the major English clubs. This would exist at the expense of the century old Football League whose head was now virtually cut off, leaving it with the rump of its competition. And it was Kelly who, for years, had been the Football League's Secretary! I soon named the new competition. The Greed Is Good League and have never seen any reason to change my mind.

Inevitably soccer has been rent in two, between the haves and the have nots. Immense sums of television money from the satellite company B Sky B has made Premiership footballers into millionaires, while woe betide the club which slips out of the top division into the so-called Nationwide Division I, and thus forfeits immense sums of money: yet still has contracted players to pay.

Kelly eventually got his come up and, eased out of the FA when it transpired that a controversial deal had been agreed with the Welsh FA, but the damage had long been done. Crozier was simply the consequence of it. I've been reminded of the devastating conclusion of George Orwell's bitter satire on Soviet Russia, Animal Farm, when the pigs take the farm over. But at the very end, it's impossible to tell the difference between the pigs and the farmers. Once upon a time the FA had a formidable Secretary in Sir Stanley Rous, later the President of FIFA. I know all too well with what contempt he would have viewed the present situation. So much that he worked for has been undermined and destroyed. Crozier was, in the last analysis, no more than a sad symptom of what the Football Association has become.