Peter Young
29 June 2001
England Football Online
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Comment: Lying at the Football Association

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Deceiving the public and the press is business as usual at Soho Square

Last Friday, in the wake of widespread media reports that F.A. technical director Howard Wilkinson was about to be removed from his post as coach of England's Under-21 team because of widespread dissatisfaction with his performance, the Football Association issued this statement, published on its website under the heading "F.A. deplores reports" :

"As we have repeatedly made clear, Howard Wilkinson is playing an integral part in the current review of the coaching staff of England teams at all levels. 
"That is a discussion which is ongoing and will be continued when Sven Göran Eriksson returns from his holiday in July.
"Howard Wilkinson is a key member of The F.A. Management Team led by Adam Crozier and The F.A. deplores the damaging and unfair reports that have appeared in the national press in recent days."

Today, precisely a week later, Howard Wilkinson has been removed from the Under-21 coaching post.  The media reports of last week were entirely true.  The F.A.'s statement, clearly intended to imply the media reports were untrue, was itself dishonest.

Today the F.A. posted on its website a statement saying that "Howard Wilkinson has decided to step down as Under-21 coach."  That is corporate doublespeak for "Howard Wilkinson was removed as Under 21-coach."  Far be it from the F.A. to admit it made a mistake when it approved the surprising dismissal of the hugely successful Peter Taylor as Under-21 team manager and gave the post to Wilkinson, who reportedly had problems translating his football theories into practice, difficulties in relating to young players and differences with England senior coach Sven-Göran Eriksson over systems of play.

As the F.A. posted the news of Wilkinson's removal, it also deleted from the website the statement it issued last week about unfair media reports predicting Wilkinson's removal, although its normal practice is to leave such items posted indefinitely.

The big business executives who run the F.A. apparently believe they can mislead the public and the press with impunity and then rewrite history by deleting the evidence of their deception.  

Lying has become an accepted means of doing business at the F.A.  Recently Adam Crozier spouted one untruth after another in an after-dinner speech at the Lancing Old Boys football club.  One was about a Liverpool player who signed an �80,000 cheque in front of manager Gerard Houllier as advance payment of a fine for missing a couple of weeks of club duty--an invention calculated to make Crozier's point about the consequences of unbridled player power.  

Crozier also wrote a letter asking the U.K. government to fund the Wembley rebuilding project and suggesting the governmental handout could be concealed from the public until after the general election. 

Not that this pattern of dishonesty began with Crozier.  The F.A. repeatedly lied for several years in denying that it had made a gentleman's agreement to support Germany's bid to host World Cup 2006 in return for Germany's support of England hosting the European Championship final tournament in 1996.  It did so because it decided to make its own bid--hugely wasteful in terms of both money and good will--to host the World Cup in 2006.  Anyone with an iota of common sense and awareness knew that bid was doomed from its inception.  In that disgraceful debacle, Crozier merely continued the course of lying and incompetence that had begun under his predecessor.  He had neither the strength of character nor the vision to end it before it ran its full and ruinous course.

That's one of the problems with the F.A.  It doesn't learn from its mistakes--partly because it never admits it has made any mistakes.  And so the lying continues, about matters both large and small.