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Daily Telegraph

Adam Crozier will leave Soho Square this evening for the last time as chief executive of the FA. After dramatically resigning last week, he has spent the last few days preparing a handover document and he will not be coming back to work again.

The move comes after Premier League clubs had made it clear that they did not want Crozier to continue as a ‘caretaker’.

Premier League chairmen yesterday held their first meeting in London since Crozier’s resignation, and the issue dominated discussions. The 12-member FA board, on which the Premier League has four representatives, will meet in an emergency session on Monday to discuss finding a replacement.

It was the previous FA board meeting, on Oct 21, that had led to Crozier’s downfall. The day before, three of the four Premier League representatives, David Richards, chairman of the Premier League and Robert Coar (Blackburn) and Peter Ridsdale (Leeds), accompanied by Maurice Watkins, the Manchester United director acting as their legal adviser, had met with FA chairman Geoff Thompson, Crozier and Nic Coward, the FA’s legal expert.

The Premier League presented a paper to the FA asking for a dramatic restructuring of the English game. Their main demand was for the creation of a Professional Game Board, to take all decisions on the professional game. This was needed to curb what they saw as Crozier’s unacceptable management style.

The wrath of the top clubs had been building up for 12 months. They had been angered by Crozier’s intervention in the dispute between the Premier League and the Professional Footballers’ Association over the distribution of television money, and by his demands for a winter break in the season.

In May, Peter Hill-Wood, Arsenal chairman, wrote an angry letter to Crozier about the clubs’ reduced income from the FA Cup, and through much of September, chairmen worked on a draft letter to the FA.

Then, as England played Slovakia in Euro 2004 qualifying, came the signing of sponsorship contracts for England players. The clubs saw this as the FA having first call on their players at the behest of sponsors, even if this clashed with club commitments.

Despite this background, Premier League insiders say that the meeting seemed to go well. One said: “Geoff Thompson even congratulated us on our constructive approach and the feeling was that if only Adam was prepared to change his style and not present us with a fait accompli, we could work with him.”

At the FA board meeting the next day, Crozier began by producing newspaper cuttings which revealed the secret Monday meeting. He said: “This is why I don’t tell you anything. You lot always leak.”

Crozier then tried to prevent discussion on the Professional Game Board, saying: “I am not prepared to put up with that.”

Thompson, who as chairman had let Crozier have free rein, intervened: “That is not your decision.”

The documents the Premier League had presented to Crozier and Thompson contained two letters from David Richards. An earlier draft had hinted at a withdrawal from the FA Cup, while a second one was more conciliatory.

Crozier distributed both letters to the board, saying: “You’d better read these letters before we have any debate.”

The Premier League were incensed that Crozier had distributed the draft hinting at FA Cup withdrawal, which was likely to alarm board members representing the amateur game, whose support is needed to get the Professional Game Board idea through. The discussion that followed led to a vote on the concept of a Professional Game Board, which was 8-3 in favour of the Premier League.

Crozier returned from lunch with a press statement, which did not mention the vote. He said: “I don’t think it should be made public.”

To add to the Premier League’s concerns, Paul Barber, the FA’s head of marketing, said the FA had a problem he wanted to discuss with some board members. Ridsdale and David Dein, Arsenal vice-chairman, were deputed and were told that Octagon, a sports rights company, were suing the FA for alleged breach of contract. They had signed an exclusive £40 million three-year deal to sell TV rights to England matches overseas, but complained that the FA had sold seven matches to another group. The legal advice was that this dispute could cost the FA as much as £14 million, although a deal might cut it to £6 million.

A Premier League insider said: “This is just the sort of Crozier management deal we are talking about, not discussing matters in the board but then having private meetings to deal with problems. We are board directors, we cannot be treated that way.”

Crozier remained bullish after the meeting, arranging to have lunch with journalists and brushing aside any problems with the Premier League. On that Tuesday afternoon Crozier had a private meeting with Thomson, who made it clear that he had lost the confidence of some board members and that his opposition to the Professional Game Board was a major problem. Crozier asked for time to consider his position and last Thursday told Thomson he had decided to resign.

Crozier, whose basic salary was £400,000, is believed to have negotiated a £600,000 pay-off.

Frank Pattison, who represented the amateur game as one of two FA vice-chairmen and was Crozier’s foremost supporter, resigned last Monday.

He had been unwell and had threatened to resign before. His successor as vice-chairman is likely to be Roger Burden, from Gloucestershire.

He was one of the two amateur members of the FA board who supported the Professional Game Board and is seen as a future chairman.

The chairman is elected by the FA council, who are dominated by the amateur game, and the Premier League are understood to believe that Burden is someone with whom they can work.

© Mihir Bose

      

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