Barwick defends FA

Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick has strongly defended the game’s governing body from criticism by Lord Stevens’ bungs inquiry.

Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick has strongly defended the game’s governing body from criticism by Lord Stevens’ bungs inquiry.

Barwick insists all but one of Stevens’ recommendations on changes to agents’ regulations are being introduced by the FA anyway.

The FA chief also referred to there being “little detail concerning irregular transfer activities” in today’s announcement of the findings of the nine-month investigation into alleged illegal payments.

He also stressed that the FA is already committed to boosting numbers and resources in their compliance department, which oversees transfers.

Barwick said: “While there was little detail concerning irregular transfer activities, at today’s press conference Lord Stevens highlighted various criticisms of the FA and the compliance department.

"He also made certain recommendations.

“The overwhelming majority of these recommendations had already been formulated by the FA prior to his inquiry.

“Many were introduced as part of the existing domestic agents’ regulations and others will form part of the new regulations, which come into force next summer.

“The need to prevent dual representation, which Lord Stevens identifies as the key conflict of interest in this area, is something that has been driven by the FA for over two years.

“Therefore, we were delighted when the Premier League endorsed this policy last summer, and it will come into force in May 2007.

“In fact, of the 39 recommendations, 32 concern the FA and of these only one measure does not form part of the regulation of agents. The FA board have already approved an independent audit in every transfer window.”

The Stevens report says “The FA failed to monitor in any detailed or systematic way the arrangements connected to transfers occurring during the inquiry period.

“The FA’s clearing-house system failed to review the information on unusual payments or transfers as thoroughly as it should have done.”

But Barwick insisted the FA “had full confidence” in its compliance department.

He added: “Earlier this year, the FA decided to significantly increase the resource dedicated to the compliance and registrations areas, with more dedicated investigative resource, both internal and external, and an upgrading of database systems to streamline the administration of transfers.

“We are confident that the ‘arms-length’ regulation and compliance unit foreseen by Lord Burns will further strengthen our ability to govern this area of the game.

“We trust that the FA shareholders will support these proposals when they vote on the structural review in March.

“The FA have full confidence in our compliance department and its ability to regulate the game. The department is staffed by investigative specialists in a number of areas, including a former police officer and forensic accountant.”

Barwick stressed that the FA already had a detailed education programme on transfer rules for clubs, players and agents.

He said: “While Lord Stevens also notes that some clubs failed to meet their responsibility to properly know football’s rules and regulations, we should make clear that the FA have an extensive ongoing education programme in place to make sure all clubs, players and agents are fully aware of regulations and any changes to them.

“In fact, in the past week we have held briefings for both Premier League and Football League clubs.”

Barwick did promise however that the FA would continue to co-operate with Quest.

He added: “I would like to make it absolutely clear that we are fully committed to tackling irregularities in the game, together with the Premier League and Quest.

“I would like to make clear that the FA have supported Quest throughout their inquiry and we will continue to do so, moving forward.”

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