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
"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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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