FA clarify Beckham's comments

March 3, 2006

The Football Association today hit back in defence of David Beckham after it was claimed he wanted the next England boss to have Champions League experience.

The England captain, asked this week about Sven-Goran Eriksson's successor, said the new man needed 'a certain amount of experience' and must be able to 'handle big games like in Champions League and World Cups'.

This was taken to rule out candidates like Sam Allardyce, Stuart Pearce and Alan Curbishley, who have never managed in Europe's top competition.

It sparked a reaction from Bolton manager Allardyce but the FA have issued a statement in a bid to stop any tension building between the pair.

An FA spokesman said: 'It has been alleged that Beckham has ruled out any potential candidates who have not managed at Champions League level.

'However the transcript clearly states that in response to a question whether the manager should have experience of the Champions League, he simply stated that the next England manager has `to be able to handle big games - like in Champions League and World Cups. This decision will be made by the FA not me'.

'David Beckham did not say Champions League experience was a must requirement, or rule out any individuals, contrary to reports.'

The statement was posted on the FA's website, www.thefa.com, along with a transcript of the relevant words from Beckham's press conference, given last Tuesday, before England's 2-1 win against Uruguay.

Beckham will have the chance to explain his comments himself if the FA decide to ask the opinions of the senior players as part of their recruitment policy.

An FA spokesman said: 'If we consult with the senior players, it will be done privately.'

FA chief executive Brian Barwick is leading the three-man team, who will identify the man they want to be the next England manager.

Martin O'Neill, Guus Hiddink, Steve McClaren, Allardyce, Pearce and Curbishley are widely considered to be the six front-runners.

Allardyce insists the candidates should not be judged on their playing careers or their experience in the Champions League.

The Bolton boss said: 'Of course, experience of the game at the highest level would help but it is not essential.

'Was Sven-Goran Eriksson an international footballer? No. Were Jose Mourinho or Rafael Benitez? No. Nobody seems to question their coaching qualifications.

'All that matters is that you are a great manager - if that applies, you are right for the job.

'Everyone knows I would love to have the opportunity to be interviewed for the England job. If that happens it would be fantastic.'