FA chairman Lord Triesman has branded Richard Bevan’s widespread attack on the way the game is being run as “foolish”.
The ferocity of Bevan’s attack and the perceived discrepancies in it have infuriated Triesman, triggering a hostile response in which he totally rejects the theory that too much FA time is spent on PR and politics while major projects, such as the National Football Centre, are being ignored.
Bevan is not happy about a speech by Triesman on Tuesday in which he expressed his concerns about debt levels in the game, feeling it is a subject too far removed from his remit to be of concern.
As chief executive of the League Managers’ Association, Bevan is attempting to get a greater say for his organisation in key FA projects, particularly the development of young players and a consultancy position within the general debate over goalline technology.
But Triesman feels Bevan has picked the wrong topics to address.
And senior figures within the FA have raised eyebrows at the irony of Bevan working hard to increase the LMA’s profile with a round of media interviews - which Soho Square chiefs feel are justified – but at the same time attacking the governing body for their use of PR and spin.
“It’s foolish to claim this is just PR and politics,” said Triesman.
“The long-term financial health of the national game is a key priority of the FA, and the whole of football.
“My comments this week about debt in the game were my views on an important current issue which is concerning many people in football.”
Bevan feels Triesman should spend more time on the NFC project in Burton, which he does not believe is moving forward as quickly as it should.
This attack has surprised the FA, who remain totally committed to the Burton project, of which Triesman is a huge fan.
“I visited the NFC site last week, and can confirm we are committed to it,” he said.
“After being appointed FA chairman earlier this year, I made it clear football development is a key priority.
“This was stated very publicly in our vision for the game which was published in May.
“This followed a series of discussions with (director of football development) Sir Trevor Brooking and technical staff, while also attending a meeting with coaches and academy directors at Reading. This was part of a wide FA consultative programme with coaches and technical staff across the whole game.”
Such statements seem unlikely to placate Bevan, no matter how unfounded the FA belief his accusations are.
“One of the problems with sport around the world is that the administrators and owners come in and don’t bring in enough of the right technical people,” Bevan told the Daily Express.
“Sport doesn’t have the right balance. It’s probably because they’d like to operate it more like a business and forget that it’s sport.
“The chairman of the FA should be focusing primarily on making sure the stakeholders are supported and aware of what they are doing.
“I would like to see Lord Triesman and his team focus on those key activities, rather than focusing on debt.
“You can only assume people are messing about with PR and politics. We want to see stronger action and stronger leadership.”
Bevan feels Triesman should have been canvassing opinion on goalline technology from players and coaches across Europe, so he eventually had concrete plans to put in front of FIFA and UEFA.
However, Triesman feels such knee-jerk comments ignore all the work the FA have done on the subject.
“For many years the FA has fully supported goalline technology,” said Triesman.
“The FA collated a lot of detailed evidence from technical and referee circles and presented it to the International Association Football Board.
“This was supported by strong recommendations from (former chairman) Geoff Thompson and (outgoing chief executive) Brian Barwick.
“Unfortunately other parties voted against the FA’s desire for use of goalline technology.
“I am very surprised and disappointed at Richard Bevan’s inaccurate comments which he has never once raised this with me in person.”
Bevan, who claims to be disappointed Triesman has never contacted him, would like to see more football people brought in at the top of the FA.
He also believes the collective strength of bodies such as his and the player and coaches unions should also be better utilised when lobbying governing bodies.
He told the 'Daily Telegraph': “Together we have immense power, more than Michel Platini [UEFA], Lord Triesman and people running the game.
“Four or five senior managers, like Howard Wilkinson, should be employed at the highest level of the FA, pushing it in the right direction, but instead we have a lot of Government and board people.
“Lord Triesman hasn’t contacted me yet I represent the biggest PR vehicle he could possibly have to grow his objectives.”