New FA chair Bernstein pushes for independent directors
New FA chair David Bernstein is to push for the appointment of two independent non-executive directors to the organisation’s board.
Bernstein received approval from the board to lobby for the reform, which was first suggested in the Burns Report six years ago, at a meeting on Thursday (17 February).
Sports minister Hugh Robertson has been pressing for the change to the board structure and by moving now Bernstein may spike the guns of both Government and the parliamentary select committee examining football governance.
Bernstein is due to appear before the committee next month and will now have something concrete to put before them.
His proposal falls short of the Burns’ recommendations however because all the existing board members would remain in place.
Burns proposed that the number of representatives from the professional and national game be reduced from five each to just three-a-side, giving the independent directors a third of the voting rights.
If Bernstein is successful, the independents will have less power but their influence should still transform the dynamic on the board and may provide a welcome counter to the power of the professional game.
Independent directors may make it easier for the chairman and the executive to steer the FA.
The change requires the approval of a majority of FA councillors and Bernstein will now consult them to try to win approval for the measure, a move that will prove an early test of his authority.
Malcolm Clarke, a councillor by virtue of his role as chairman of the Football Supporters Federation, has tried without success to persuade five per cent of his colleagues to support a motion calling for independent directors.
Bernstein wrote to councillors on Friday to tell them of his plans: “The board considered a recommendation to change the composition of the FA board by the addition of two voting independent non-executive directors and discussed the benefits such a change may bring,” he wrote.
“The board agreed that I should now consult with council members to gather their views before any recommendation is put to shareholders. I am very aware that this issue has been discussed extensively in the past. I recognise that, for some, this may be a controversial proposal.
“That is why I am keen to engage with council members in the coming weeks to discuss the merits of the proposal. So please, if any of you have any concerns on this matter do give me a call or email me.”
From the Daily Telegraph