FA reform proposals 'wishy washy' - Kick It Out boss Lord Ouseley

Greg Clarke
FA chairman Greg Clarke has vowed to resign if his plans for reform are not backed by the government

Football Association plans to boost the diversity of its leadership are "wishy washy" and "won't make any difference", says a leading equality campaigner.

The FA announced the proposed reforms after criticism over the way it is run.

They include more women being added to its board and 11 new members joining the FA Council to "better reflect" the diversity of English football.

However, Lord Ouseley, chairman of diversity campaign group Kick It Out, says the changes are "superficial".

A former chairperson of the Commission for Racial Equality and a current Institute of Race Relations council member, Lord Ouseley told BBC Radio 5 live: "It won't add any additional power and involvement in leadership roles for black and minority ethnic people.

"In fact, there's no representation for disabled people, LGBT communities - it's very superficial.

"While it will look good and it is to be welcomed as some change, it won't make any difference about where the power is, where the control is, and quite frankly it's a bit wishy washy."

Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), was also critical of the reforms, saying they showed "a complete disrespect for key stakeholders" such as players, managers, referees and fans.

"We are referred to as 'not aligned' to The Professional Game or National Game, which shows a complete lack of understanding and respect for the very people who provide their income," he said.

"Such proposals do nothing to bring us in line with the rest of the world or alter the perception of lacking inclusion and being disconnected 'dinosaurs'."

'This is a transformational leap forward'

In December, five former FA bosses asked the government to intervene and change an organisation they described as being held back by "elderly white men".

In February, MPs warned they could legislate to force the FA to reform if they had "no confidence" that the organisation would do so itself.

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch has said the FA could lose £30m-£40m of public funding if it does not modernise.

FA chairman Greg Clarke reiterated that he will quit if the plans for reform do not win government support.

"This is a transformational leap forward and if the government don't accept this, I'm not sure what else we can do," he told BBC Sport on Monday.

"If government don't want to accept it, who am I to argue but, of course, I will resign."

BBC Radio 5 live sports news correspondent Richard Conway asked Clarke why there were no plans for dedicated black, Asian and minority ethnic background representation on the proposed new 10-member board.

Clarke replied: "What I would like to see is a path to make sure that not only are we gender diverse but ethnically diverse. What I don't want this to be is empty words.

"I want to find a way to achieve it and be accountable. I just need a bit more time to get there.

"It's really important that the FA is representative to society. Throughout the business world, diverse boards make better decisions. I think that's true in football too."

The FA is effectively run by its own parliament, the FA Council, which has 122 members. Just eight are women and only four are from ethnic minorities. More than 90 of the 122 members are aged over 60.

FA Council
Only eight of the 122 members of the FA Council are women

What are the planned reforms?

The FA's proposed reforms seek to:

  • Establish three positions on the FA board reserved for female members by 2018
  • Reduce the size of the board to 10 members
  • Add 11 new members to the FA Council so it "better reflects the inclusive and diverse nature of English football"
  • Limit board membership to three periods of three years
  • Introduce term limits for FA Council membership

The reforms still have to be approved by the FA Council, which will debate and vote on the recommendations on Monday, 3 April.

If they receive majority approval they will be taken forward to a vote of the shareholders at the FA's annual meeting on 18 May.

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