FA chairman Greg Clarke accepts board members do support push for diversity

Football Association chairman Greg Clarke has backed down from his claim that plans to make the FA board more diverse were blocked by the members representing the Premier League and the English Football League.

Clarke said in a letter to the FA Council that professional game representatives on the FA board, which includes EFL chairman Rick Parry, stood in the way of a review of the board’s composition.

However, he has now clarified that his comments were as a result of a “misunderstanding” which has been resolved at a meeting on Tuesday.

He said in a statement on the FA’s website: “The letter I wrote today to the FA Council was not intended to be divisive, it was in fact intended to highlight an issue that we all care deeply about across both the FA board and the FA Council.

“I have never doubted the commitment across both the professional game and the national game to do everything in our power to address inequality in our game.

“We all share the same desire to see English football take a lead role in ensuring our game is inclusive – most notably in leadership positions in football. The FA, Premier League and EFL are all committed to making further significant progress on diversity and inclusion.

“Following high-level talks between all parties today, I recognise now that the views held by the members of the board were not as they first appeared, and that all parties do support a review of FA Board diversity.

Paul Elliott is the chair of the FA’s inclusion advisory board (John Stillwell/PA)

“I would personally like to thank all stakeholders for moving quickly to eliminate any misunderstanding that had arisen. We are united in wanting to deliver inclusion in our game.”

The possible review would see Paul Elliott, the chair of the FA’s inclusion advisory board, becoming a director, and free up a further two positions which could be occupied by diverse candidates as two independent directors had expressed a willingness to stand down.

The professional game is represented on the FA board by Peter McCormick – the chair of the Premier League’s legal advisory group – Parry and Rupinder Bains, who jointly represents the Premier League and the EFL.

A joint statement by the Premier League and EFL said: “The Premier League and EFL welcome Greg Clarke’s clarification following the letter he issued to the FA Council today. The original letter did not reflect the true nature of the discussions held at the FA Board meeting last week.

“We wholeheartedly support the objective of improving diversity at every level of the game – including the FA Board – and are engaging with the FA on the options to achieve this.

“Working together, the Premier League and EFL have already sought to increase diversity on the Board through the appointment of Rupinder Bains as our representative.

“It was agreed at last week’s FA Board meeting to undertake an evaluation of diversity and inclusion within the FA in a consultative but efficient…

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