LONDON: The Football Association council has unanimously approved a package of reforms proposed by chairman Greg Clarke.
The key vote took place after little more than an hour of the meeting starting at Wembley and the plans now go forward to the FA’s annual general meeting on May 18, when they will need a 75pc majority for approval.
The reforms are a response to government pressure after decades of inertia and, if they meet shareholder approval, will represent a major triumph for FA chairman Clarke and Sports Minister Tracey Crouch whose sports governance code came into force on Saturday.
The provisions of the code were announced last October and all national governing bodies in receipt of public funding – either for elite or grassroots sport, or both – must comply with them by October 31, 2017.
The threat of losing millions of National Lottery and exchequer funding for grassroots projects from Sport England has concentrated minds at the FA, where chairman after chairman has tried and failed to make its governance structure more accountable, diverse and streamlined.
In February, the Commons passed a “no confidence” vote in the FA’s ability to reform itself, a testimony to the frustration many have felt about the national game’s “blazers” over the years.
Clarke, who succeeded Greg Dyke in August, had threatened to quit if his reform proposals were rejected.
Crouch wants to see women making up at least 30pc of governing body boards and the FA’s proposals are the most radical since the formation of the Premier League in 1992.
The board will be reduced from 12 members to 10, with three of those positions reserved for women by 2018, and board members will be restricted to three three-year terms. Dame Heather Rabbatts is the only female on the current FA board.
Its composition will be the chairman, the FA chief executive, two independents and three representatives each from the amateur and professional games.
There will also be major changes for the council, football’s so-called parliament, with 11 new members added to better reflect what the FA has described as “the inclusive and diverse nature of English football”, which means more black, Asian and minority ethnic members, more women and a louder voice for disability football and fans.
All council members will have to be active members of the organisations they are elected or nominated to represent, ending the creation of senior vice-presidents and life vice-presidents, who will also lose their voting rights. And term limits will also be introduced to council members, with four four-year stints likely to be the maximum allowed.