Published on February 8, 2013 | by Dean Joseph


FA 150 – Perryman calls for greater player involvement

Wembley Stadium, the home of the England national team. [Flickr: Ken Bryan]

Despite the Football Association celebrating its 150th anniversary, the organisation is run by people who are not “serving the interest of sport” according to England fans spokesman, Mark Perryman.

He told Arts London News: “The FA has divorced itself from almost all aspects of governing the sport. Beyond David Bernstein, Adrian Bevington, Roy Hodgson, Sir Trevor Brooking and a few others; I don’t think we really know who the others are as most of the people of the FA are faceless.”

A unique sporting figure has been absent throughout the organisation’s existence and with this Perryman suggests a change should be made.

“What I think is a real shame is that the FA, as long as I’ve known it, has never been run at the very top position by somebody who is a former international footballer.”

Sir Trevor Brooking, the head director of development for the past decade is the closest the FA has to an ex-footballer.

The 64-year-old former West Ham United player has never been given a bigger role on the board and this is very frustrating for Perryman, as you have only to look at European countries such as France and Germany to see how well this has worked out for their countries.


“I think it was a great mistake that Sir Trevor Brooking was never allowed to become the chairman or the chief executive. Look around the world and Germany has produced Beckenbauer, you know he captained them in a World Cup winning team, he managed a World Cup winning team and he organised a World Cup, and Platini who went from being a player to one of the most senior administrators in world football.

“It doesn’t mean they have all the answers, but I think there is a tendency across sport culture, and its culture in this country to worship business culture, that business has all the answers.”

Former footballers and managers have that extra side of emotion when associating them with the game they love. Recognising the importance of how England’s governing body’s structure should be changed is something Perryman is very passionate about.

“Now, to my mind, what you need is people running sports governing bodies which have really come through the sport, really know what the sport is all about and then the business side services sports’ interest,“ Perryman explained.

The FA has poured a vast amount of money into grass-root football, but the sad reality is that the governing body has always seemed to relate to the business side of the game instead of the vital interest of the sport.


“I think we have got it the other way round, it is actually run by people who have come from a business background and then they run sport in a way that business should be run and that is a reversal of priorities,” claimed Perryman.

Sebastian Coe, a former 1,500-metre gold medallist at the 1980 Moscow Games is now the chairman of the British Association, and orchestrated the London Olympic 2012. The 56-year-old is a prime example and Perryman calls for similar actions to be taken at the FA.

“I’m a critic of London 2012 but things which kept that show on the road and made it such a magnificent occasion was the fact it was run by Seb Coe. He has been immersed in sports culture since he was a teenager, so he knows what the values of sport are.

“I think it is good Seb Coe was chief executive of the Olympics. Why isn’t that good enough for the FA?

“You look at the background of all the chief executives of recent years, they all come from the business background, and arguably the only exception is Lord Triesman who was basically forced out because people in the FA didn’t like what he was doing.”


Lord Triesman was the only recent chairman who had come from a footballing background, as he was a sports writer and also a referee at grass-root level, and Perryman suggests: “I don’t think that serves the interest of sports best.”

David Bernstein, the chairman of the FA has recently praised former England captain David Beckham, suggesting he might receive a role at the FA. Beckham’s status in the world of football could be a great appointment and help lead England into the right direction.

This move would be significant and Perryman believes it will take time to improve the current situation but will send the right signal to world  of football.

“I don’t think you could automatically assume it, but it would send out the right messages. It’s saying that the business side, the people who sign the contracts of the sponsors, broadcasting deals are serving the interest of the highest body in the governing body which are sports people; footballers, coaches, managers and fans.”

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