February 8, 2017 / 12:53 PM / 5 months ago

FA chairman Clarke says will quit if government rejects reform proposals

3 Min Read

Britain Football Soccer - UEFA EURO 2020 Launch Event - London City Hall - 21/9/16 FA Chairman Greg Clarke during the launch Action Images via Reuters / Tony O'Brien Livepic

LONDON (Reuters) - English Football Association chairman Greg Clarke will step down if the government does not support his proposals to reform the under-fire governing body, he said ahead of a parliamentary debate on Thursday.

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee will discuss a motion of no confidence in the FA which, in October, was given six months to make changes to the governance of the world's oldest soccer federation.

In an open letter on the FA's website Clarke, who has only been in the job five months, admitted that the organisation needs to be more diverse. But he dismissed the notion that it is "sitting idly by" rather than making changes.

"The FA has a set of proposals to improve our governance which we will ratify and then take to the Minister of Sport in order to get her approval," he said.

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch wants the FA to be more transparent and diverse. Currently there is only one woman on its 12-person board, while its 120-member council has been accused of being antiquated and resistant to change.

"Change won't be easy, but I am confident it will happen -- and it will be substantial," Clarke said in his letter.

"Delivering real change is my responsibility and I firmly believe this is critical for the future of the game. If the Government is not supportive of the changes when they are presented in the coming months, I will take personal responsibility for that. I will have failed.

"I will be accountable for that failure and would in due course step down from my role," he said.

Thursday's debate is taking place after five former FA executives said the governing body was outdated and not representative of the sport in Britain.

In December Damian Collins, chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, was deeply critical of the FA, saying promised reforms had not been delivered.

"The trouble is delivering that reform has been impossible for the FA to do itself, because there are too many vested interests within football who don't want to see that change," Collins said. "These forces seek to block change and reform whenever it is proposed."

Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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