Sven not 'an expensive mistake' Barwick

August 29, 2006

Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick has insisted Sven-Goran Eriksson was not an expensive failure as England manager.

Swede Eriksson's five-year reign ended after this summer's World Cup, when he stepped down after guiding England to the quarter-finals.

It was England's third successive exit at the last-eight stage of a major tournament under Eriksson, who reportedly earned up to £5million a year during his tenure.

Barwick told BBC Radio Five Live: 'In qualification terms he was 100% in major tournaments but he himself would say three quarter-finals would not be considered the success he would have looked for.

'He thought this time there would be every chance of success but it did not happen.

'An expensive mistake? I would not accept that notion but we were all disappointed, him included.'

Eriksson has been succeeded by his number two, the former Middlesborough manager Steve McClaren, who has brought in another ex-England boss, Terry Venables, as his assistant.

Barwick believes bringing Venables in was a smart move and denies there are any problems relating to him leaving the England post 10 years ago.

Barwick, speaking in an interview to be broadcast in full this evening, said: 'I think Terry sees something extra. He will not sit back and not tell Steve, he will tell Steve.

'He is no threat to Steve as the boss - that will be a mischief rumour, not reality.

'He has great experience, he will get on the field. He is a tracksuit coach, as Steve is a tracksuit coach. It is two brains.'

The FA chief exec also believes the organisation are in the 'home straight' over implementing changes recommended by Lord Burns.

The Burns report was published more than a year ago, but the FA have still not acted on recommendations to change their structure in an effort to reduce bureaucracy.

Sports minister Richard Caborn has criticised the FA, claiming the 'indecision' reflects badly on the organisation, but Barwick refuses to rush into changes.

'Has everything in his Government gone exactly to the same time frame?' said Barwick in response to Caborn's comments.

Barwick added: 'This is a 143-year-old organisation that should deal with evolution not revolution.

'We're talking about a document that will change the shape and style of the FA and bring some much-needed modernity.

'I'm an advocate of it and believe in it. I believe the FA should better reflect the world we live in and the football world we live in. It should take this long because there is a lot of consultation.

'There are a lot of interested parties, a lot of people have to understand how it affects them and it is our internal structural review so it should ultimately be delivered to our time frame and not somebody else's.

'This is a significant document which will be the blueprint for the future of the organisation and if it's worth doing then it is right doing it at the right speed. I genuinely believe we are in the home straight.

'We are in a footballing democracy at the FA so I have no issue if there is opposition, I happen to believe in it and I believe we will take on board some of the most significant parts of Burns and move this association forward.'

Barwick has not booked another stadium for this season's FA Cup final, although he refuses to guarantee Wembley as the venue.

'I understand we are open to some degree of criticism, I would say misplaced criticism of the FA of Wembley Stadium not being open yet,' he added.

'The fact of the matter is we are waiting for the builders to hand over the keys - we're not building the stadium, Multiplex are building the stadium.'