Football Association board diversity plans blocked by professional play – Greg Clarke

Greg Clarke was named President of the Football Association in September 2016

Football Association president Greg Clarke said he was “disappointed” after claiming that professional football representatives on the FA’s board of directors blocked an initiative to improve the diversity of its members.

In a letter to the FA Council,external link Clarke said a number of options were discussed at last week’s board meeting, including making Paul Elliott – chairman of the inclusion advisory board – a director.

He claims that representatives of the EFL and the Premier League “were against such a revision”.

He then said in a statement that he had “not intended to divide” in the letter and that he “intended to highlight an issue that is close to our hearts at the same time. within the FA Board and the FA Council “.

He said: “After high level discussions between all parties today, I now recognize that the opinions of the board members were not as they were initially, and that all parties support a FA board diversity review. “

A joint Premier League and EFL statement on Tuesday said Clarke’s letter “did not reflect the true nature of the discussions held at the FA Board meeting last week” and they said that they welcomed his clarifications.

The statement added: “It was agreed at the FA Board of Directors meeting last week to undertake a diversity and inclusion assessment in the FA in a consultative but effective manner.”

Writing to the FA Council, Clarke said: “Without the support of the professional game and the national game, which have a majority of directors, a review of the composition of the FA board of directors is not possible.

“I had hoped that the FA, as the governing body of the game, would have been able to consider whether its own board was appropriately constituted to represent a diverse game and share its thinking with the board. This process takes place in football but will not happen now with regard to the FA board of directors. “

He added: “As president of the FA, it disappoints me.”

Other options discussed included granting the Professional and National Games an additional seat on the board “which could provide the flexibility to allow the nomination of diverse candidates if they were the best qualified person for the position. “.

Clarke also said: “Our two independent directors have offered to step down to create opportunities for a more diverse board, but the board has been united in declining their offer.”

BBC Sport spoke to a board member who called Clarke’s statement “bizarre” and “divisive” and said board members asked him not to release it this morning when he informed them of his plans.

A Premier League source told the BBC she was not opposed to a review, but that it must be a review, followed by review and change, not Clarke’s random statements.

There are three professional football representatives on the FA board: former Premier League president Peter McCormick, who chairs his legal advisory group, English Football League president Rick Parry and lawyer Rupinder. Bains, which jointly represents the Premier League and the EFL.

The 2017 reforms, which they deemed sufficient, led to BAME representation on the board of directors reaching 10%, 10% representation of the LGBT + community and 40% representation of women.

The Premier League has shown its solidarity, with player names being replaced on the back of their shirts with ‘Black Lives Matter’ for the first 12 games of the restarted season, and a Black Lives Matter badge will appear on all shirts for the remainder of. the countryside.

Several prominent players, including Manchester City winger Raheem Sterling, have called for more diversity in the hierarchy of sports organizations in the wake of the Black Lives Matter campaign.

Kick It Out President Sanjay Bhandari said, “Black Lives Matter has rightly got organizations across all sectors to think about how they tackle systemic inequalities and better reflect society.

“This process has to start at the top with the management team. It is right that the FA seeks to seize the opportunity, to think about the composition of its management team and whether it represents the players, the fans and the players. participants in the game.

“I applaud Greg Clarke’s efforts to do so. It is disappointing that this effort was rejected. Before commenting further, we would need to better understand the rationale behind professional play to dismiss a review.”

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