Football politics

FA appoint Watmore as new chief executive

February 18, 2009
By Soccernet staff

Ian Watmore has been announced as the new chief executive of the English Football Association, replacing Brian Barwick whose decision to quit the role at the end of 2008 was revealed during England's friendly with the Czech Republic last August.

EmpicsSoho Square: The FA's London headquarters will soon have a new chief executive.

It is understood that from around 170 applications the FA whittled down the candidates to a shortlist of three who were interviewed by the full FA board at Soho Square on Tuesday.

Watmore is expected to take up his position in June after completing his obligations in his current role as Permanent Secretary for the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

The 50-year-old becomes the fourth man to hold the chief executive's position - the fifth including acting chief executive David Davies - since the departure of Graham Kelly in 1998 who had held the position for nine years.

In that time, Adam Crozier, Mark Palios and Barwick have overseen the FA's development with varying degrees of success.

Former advertising executive Crozier was instrumental in rejuvenating and modernising the organisation between 2000-02, moving it to modern headquarters in central London and appointing England's first foreign coach, Sven-Goran Eriksson.

Chartered accountant and former Tranmere Rovers and Crewe Alexandra player Palios proved a far less successful appointment between 2003-04; he was in the position for just over a year and quit following a scandal which involved a relationship with an FA secretary who was also involved with Eriksson.

Barwick steadied the ship after taking his position in January 2005 and used his background in sports broadcasting to play a key role in the negotiation a number of TV rights deals for the FA Cup and England national team.

However, Barwick's stock fell as a result of his role in appointing unsuccessful England coach Steve McClaren and he decided to step-down amid reports of an uncomfortable working relationship with FA chairman Lord Triesman.

Watmore, who like Lord Triesman is a lifelong Arsenal fan, brings 24-years of experience in the IT industry, but perhaps more significantly for the horse-trading which may be involved in England's bid to host the 2018 World Cup, Watmore has a background in politics having worked in the Cabinet Office as Government Chief Information Office and more recently as Head of the Prime Minister's Delivery Unit in Number 10.

Aside from his operational objectives one of Watmore's key aims will be to avoid controversy that marred the tenures of his predecessors and stay out of the headlines as much as possible.

Reacting to his appointment Watmore said: ''I'm delighted to be joining The Football Association as Chief Executive. It's a great challenge and one I'm really looking forward to. With Lord Triesman and the Board, Fabio Capello and The FA's staff, I want to ensure we are achieving success on and off the pitch across all levels of the game.''

In welcoming Watmore Lord Triesman, said: ''The FA Board are delighted to have appointed an outstanding new Chief Executive and we look forward to Ian joining us.

''We had a very strong shortlist of candidates, but in Ian we have the right person to lead the organisation as Chief Executive Officer. The FA is committed to maximising participation across all levels of football in this country, helping the England teams and our clubs achieve success on the pitch, while also being trusted to govern the game.''