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FA staff lack faith in senior management

Thu 19th May 2011 | Football Governance

The Football Association is in a management mess, according to a survey of workers at English football’s governing body.

The staff survey was aimed at securing the FA a prominent position among the Sunday Times’ Best 100 Companies list but has revealed serious doubts over general manager Alex Horne and his senior managers.

According to SportsMail, compared to the figures that were returned for former chief executive Ian Watmore a year earlier, there had been a 70 per cent fall in their faith in Horne and more than a 90 per cent fall when it came to how inspired they are by him.

Minister for Sport Hugh Robertson said: ‘Every single one of the directors is white, male and late middle aged, and there is nobody who has played the game to any reasonable level and no women nor anyone from the ethnic communities.’


This is a point made by staff and highlighted in the Best Companies summary of the answers given in the survey. It refers to a lack of ‘racial and gender diversity at board, council and senior management levels’, while it also highlights the need for ‘fair pay regardless of race and greater gender equality’.

The survey, conducted late last year, concluded there was a need for ‘leadership and management’ and for ‘less frequent changes at the top’ as well as calling for ‘openness and transparency from senior management’, ‘encouragement and support’, ‘working to clear focused goals’ and ‘co-operation by managers’, while also recommending departments not be ‘competitive but work to a common goal’.

Also highlighted is a need for ‘more integration between the FA and Wembley’, a need to ‘get closer to the professional game’ as well as ensuring that employees are ‘passionate about football’ while also employing ‘more ex-footballers’.

The majority of the 500 staff members remain proud to work for the organisation. But the disillusionment comes from a lack of faith in their directors, and, most alarmingly, in two key areas. The commercial division, who are central to generating revenue for the non-profitmaking organisation, and the marketing and communication division, who are responsible for external relations.

There has not been a permanent commercial director since Hill left in 2009 and the scores in the ‘leadership’ section of the survey reflect that. There has been a fall of 35 per cent between 2010 and 2011.

It has been a similar situation in the marketing and communications area. Since Adrian Bevington moved from the communications role to become managing director of Club England after the World Cup, the leadership score from staff in the Eccles-run department has dropped by 34 per cent and the score is the lowest across all FA departments.

There has also been a decline in the football development division with a fall of 17 per cent.

An FA spokesman said: ‘Like all companies who properly value their staff, the FA submit to an independent staff survey process. The results show that we can improve in some areas and have been fully communicated to staff in a transparent way.

'Following the survey, a broad range of senior staff from every department have been involved in formulating a detailed action plan to improve staff satisfaction. The FA is a very special place to work and our aim is to have a highly engaged and motivated workforce.’

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