October 28, 2020
FA chairman posed as the good English Football man standing up to billionaires but that was not Project Big Picture’s reality
Greg Clarke has surrendered the FAs moral authority to lead football | David Conn
When the Football Association chairman, Greg Clarke, manoeuvred into the space left by Richard Scudamore’s departure from the Premier League and started Project Big Picture, he told his small group of invited participants they needed the “moral authority” to secure changes to the game. Sadly the plans Clarke developed – and the misleading accounts he has given after they were leaked and exposed to the light – have stripped any moral authority he and the FA had to reshape football in these critical times. Clarke was trying, when he initiated the talks in January, to restore the FA as football’s governing body after its hammerings in the Scudamore years, but he has become a walking advert for the FA’s replacement by an independent regulator.
He had shown vision and astuteness in starting the process, foreseeing the inevitable Premier League internal battle with the big six clubs over globally expanding commercial opportunities, so he invited them first to his talks: Bruce Buck, the Chelsea chairman, Manchester United’s and Liverpool’s US owners, then from the leagues Rick Parry, the EFL chairman, and Richard Masters, the Premier League chief executive. Masters, Scudamore’s belated replacement after two appointments fell through and many candidates were reportedly put off by the prospect of marshalling the politics, declined to take part and Buck thereafter kept him informed that the talks were continuing.
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