The English Football Association’s (FA) leadership clashed with its former chairperson on Tuesday over how an escape clause was removed from coach Fabio Capello’s contract before the World Cup.
FA general secretary Alex Horne claimed at a British parliamentary inquiry into football governance that his former boss, David Triesman, amended the contract without fully consulting the board.
But Triesman responded by insisting the changes were only made last May after he had been forced to quit over an unrelated newspaper sting.
England reached the second round at the World Cup but lost to eventual semifinalist Germany. Had the clause been in place after the tournament, Capello or the FA would have been able to activate a cut-price deal to terminate the coach’s four-year contract two years early.
“I’ll hold my hands up on behalf of David Triesman and say, in hindsight, it was a whole board decision [to remove the clause] and should have gone to the whole board,” Horne, who was acting chief executive at the time, told legislators. “It did not go to the whole board … the decision has been reviewed internally and we hold our hands up to a corporate governance mistake.”
After the loss to Germany, many England fans wanted Capello to be fired. But after the contract amendment, that would likely have proved too costly for the FA. Capello’s contract is worth a reported £6-million pounds annually.
‘I never saw the contract’
Horne defended the decision to retain Capello, but regretted how the initial contract decision was taken — saying it had been handled by Triesman and “four or five people” on the board. Horne said he was “not comfortable” with naming the others who were consulted.
“David was the senior member involved as chairperson of the association and clearly felt he had the authority to make that commitment,” Horne said. “It was only after he left that the board questioned the decision.”
Triesman responded by denying he made changes to Capello’s contract without seeking the board’s approval.
“I never saw Fabio Capello’s contract, not once,” Triesman told Sky Sports. “Changes to Mr Capello’s contract were negotiated after I had left the FA and I know only what everyone read in the newspapers.
“My expectation would have been, in accordance with my normal approach, that those who conducted the final negotiation and signed the document would have taken the contract to the board.” — Sapa-AP