Evening Standard

David Dein has moved a step closer to becoming the new chairman of the Football Association.

The former Arsenal vice-chairman has refused to talk publicly about the position, one he has long coveted, but I understand he has met FA headhunters and has put his name forward.

And Dein is expected to top the shortlist of candidates which the FA Board will receive from their nominations committee tomorrow.

Whether he becomes the head of the national game will depend on the 11-strong Board accepting the conditions he has attached to the job concerning the age of retirement and the control of the England team.

At present the chairman must quit when he is 70. This means Dein, 67, will be in charge for under three years, a reign only a little longer than that of Lord Triesman which was cut short as a result of disclosure of his private conversations to a Sunday paper.

Historically, FA chairmen serve long terms but raising the age barrier would mean a rule change which would require all the FA stakeholders to agree and take considerable time.

The other Dein condition is easier to implement but raises difficult football political questions.

England used to be controlled by the international committee but one of the last decisions of Ian Whatmore, before he quit as FA chief executive in the spring, was to form Club England as part of a bid to create a club culture’ round the national team and help them perform better.

The Club England structure is overseen by Sir Dave Richards, an FA board member and chairman of the Premier League. The decision means not only has the international committee been sidelined but the FA chairman has no role in the England team. Dein and Richards have clashed in the past and FA insiders confess that while a majority of the board may vote for Dein it is unlikely that Richards would do so.

Dein’s conditions mean that the Board may put off a final decision until next month but that would mean that the new man would not be in place until March as that is the next time the Board meet. Any appointment also has to be approved by the FA Council.

Sources at the FA are aware that the Government would welcome Dein getting the job. Dein is the only bright note to emerge from the dismal bid to host the 2018 World Cup which saw England knocked out in the first round with only two votes.

After that disappointment in Zurich, acting FA chief Roger Burden — who had been the favourite for the chairman’s role — withdrew his application in protest at the manner of FIFA’s decision. Burden said: “I recognise that an important part of the role is liaison with FIFA. I’m not prepared to deal with people whom I cannot trust.”

Dein is not the only name on the shortlist. Paul Elliott, the former Chelsea player and a vital member of the 2018 team, is also on it. He is not likely to be considered as chairman but could be part of an FA Board.


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