FA board row over plans for 2018 bid


Last updated at 21:20 20 March 2008

Serious tensions at FA board level over England's 2018 World Cup bid have emerged in a letter sent by Football League chairman Lord Mawhinney to FA chief executive Brian Barwick.

The four-page letter, circulated to the board, is

highly critical of FA staff for the lack of

information over the planning for 2018 and it demands

details about the process and meetings.

Mawhinney believes such an important FA

project should be discussed and developed at

board level rather than Barwick and closest aide

Simon Johnson — who is currently running the

embryo bid — presenting their blueprint as a

fait accompli.

Mawhinney asks who authorised the pivotal

role being played by Peter Hargitay, a

highly-successful spin doctor for FIFA president

Sepp Blatter who has been employed along with

his consultancy colleague Markus Siegler,

former FIFA communications chief, to help set

up the campaign strategy and then execute it.

The Tory peer also wants more transparency

over the duties envisaged for former Minister of

Sport Richard Caborn, whose appointment as

PM Gordon Brown's 2018 envoy has complicated

matters for the FA and the Department for

Culture, Media and Sport.

Despite being a Tory grandee, Mawhinney is

concerned — as are other FA board members —

about too much political interference in what is

essentially an FA-run campaign.

The Mawhinney letter, which reflects the views

of board members who had previously asked to

be kept more in the loop over 2018, wasn't well

received at Soho Square with Barwick

particularly annoyed at the criticisms directed at his


But Barwick has still sent a rapid reply to

Mawhinney answering all of his questions in

detail with the promise that the proposed 2018

strategy will be the subject of a full presentation

at the next FA board meeting.

Manchester United superstar Cristiano

Ronaldo has been the subject of more

than one lurid kiss'n'tell story during his time

at Old Trafford.

But the first time he's felt the

need to take legal action against a newspaper

is over a relatively innocuous tale in The Sun

alleging he was fined £8,000 for texting friends

on his mobile phone during training.

There was a major scare when

England talisman Freddie

Flintoff left the field in Abu

Dhabi after bowling his first

three overs in six months for

Lancashire against Sussex —

continuing his comeback after a

fourth ankle operation.

However, Flintoff was merely

answering a call of nature, but the umpires were

upset because he didn't notify them of his


The FA are likely to have a staff uprising on

their hands if they leave the varied

attractions of Soho and relocate their HQ to

Wembley, where there is plenty of office space

in the national stadium but not much else in

desolate Brent.

However, the FA board gave

their approval to the move in principle which

would save the organisation £3million a year in

rent. Summer 2009 is seen as the possible

moving date but staff will voice their

disapproval during the planned consultation


Jostling for position

Speculation is already in overdrive over the

make-up of the Beeb Formula One team next

season. Jeremy Clarkson's Top Gear will

definitely have close links with F1 programming,

while 5 Live's past and present GP

commentators Jonathan Legard and David Croft could call

the races.

Jim Rosenthal will surely be in the presenter

mix after ITV's barmy decision not to renew his

contract. Current GP host Steve Rider, who

switched from BBC to ITV specifically for F1,

has two years left on his deal and the acrimony

surrounding his Beeb departure makes a return

unlikely. BBC football chief Niall Sloane, with

less soccer to organise, has been put in overall

charge of the GP coverage.

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