England 2018’s resolute failure to schmooze their way into FIFA’s good books earlier in the week have left relations between the two camps at an all-time low, with the English FA left to fume over a ‘complete breakdown in trust’ after seeing their glossy, self-entitled £15 million pitch get widely snubbed by the voting members of the ExCo in Zurich on Thursday afternoon.
Snubbed to such a degree in fact that, according to rumours emanating from decidedly vitriolic press circles this morning, only three members of FIFA’s 22-strong committee requested to view England 2018’s official ‘bid book’ before presumably frittering away their vote elsewhere.
Incidentally, aside from several hundred government contracts and several thousand man-hours, the 1752-page book took roughly £3 million to produce i.e. roughly £1 million per ExCo once-over.
Not surprising then, that disconsolate bid chief Andy Anson dismissed the collective effort as a complete waste of time:
“We wasted £3 million on our bid book, I have no doubts on that. The reality is what is in the bid books and the evaluation seemed to count for absolutely nothing.
The fact that the technical report was published the day before the ethics committee meeting, showed [FIFA] didn’t really care about that bit of the process.”
It seems that Anson’s teeth-grinding frustrations are also being shared throughout the upper echelons of English football’s administrative hierarchy, with the news this morning that acting FA chairman Roger Burden (who was appointed on a temporary basis back in May) has decided to withdraw his application to take the role on a full-time basis – insisting that he can ‘no longer do business with people he cannot trust’.
The FIFA ExCo’s ballot-day betrayal prompted Burden to write to the FA board in order to confirm his stance:
“I’m concerned about the way FIFA have conducted themselves. An important part of the FA [chairman] job is to liaise with FIFA, and I want nothing more to do with them.
It’s not the way I’m used to doing business, making promises to the future king of England and the Prime Minister and not keeping their word.
I am not prepared to deal with people whom I cannot trust and I have withdrawn my candidacy.”
Which, all-in-all leaves yet another void at the top of the FA’s skewed pyramid of power – which, in lieu of a bona fide leader, is currently being kept afloat by endless vaguely-titled committees and ‘acting’ this and thats like Burden himself.
The smart money seems to be on the pugnacious David Dein to inherit Burden’s burden, after the former Arsenal vice-chairman acted as the international president of England’s doomed 2018 bid i.e. head of the FA’s ass-kissing ‘networking’ network.
Dein, an experienced ‘footballing politician’, has suffered a fairly tumultuous history in FA terms, having been voted on and off the board a number of times in recent(ish) years – yet has still found his name consistently linked with the association’s top job for the past decade or so.
A two-pronged solution is also being mooted (with the FA appointing two ‘joint’ leaders), which would see the chairman’s role dissolved into separate ‘home’ and ‘international’ arms – with Burden continuing to concern himself with the county set with which he is familiar while Dein ventures off into FIFA-land in a bid to claw the FA back up the governing body’s sluice pipe.
One thing’s for sure, with any potential World Cup-centric commitments postponed until 2030 at the earliest, the FA now have plenty of time on their hands to effectively sort out their in-house governance.