England news

Triesman rejects Horne claims

March 30, 2011

Former Football Association chairman Lord Triesman has denied he had anything to do with the changes made to Fabio Capello's contract as England manager last summer.

Fabio Capello, Lord Triesman
GettyImagesLord Triesman has rejected Alex Horne's claims

FA general secretary Alex Horne has claimed Lord Triesman "made a mistake" in failing to discuss changes to Capello's deal with the organisation's whole board, but Triesman insists he was not responsible for the revised deal agreed with Capello prior to the World Cup campaign.

Triesman told Sky Sports News: "I never saw Fabio Capello's contract, not once. Changes to Mr Capello's contract were negotiated after I had left the FA and I know only what everyone read in the newspapers.

"My expectation would have been, in accordance with my normal approach, that those who conducted the final negotiation and signed the document would have taken the contract to the board. On one occasion, I met Fabio to discuss issues about his Capello Index. He wanted to know if we were unhappy about it and whether it would affect the break clause in his contract.

"Because I didn't intend to use a break clause in the circumstances and because England was doing very well, I said I had no such intention. This was around the final stages of the qualification phase of the World Cup. It is wrong to say I made changes to Capello's contract without the FA Board's approval."

The FA controversially removed an exit clause in Capello's four-year deal shortly before the summer tournament in South Africa, a decision Horne admitted should have been referred to the board.

Instead, it was taken by a handful of executives.

Triesman resigned as independent chairman following an unrelated newspaper sting before Capello's amended contract was actually signed.

Horne, who was the FA's acting chief executive at the time, told a Department of Culture Media and Sport committee inquiry into football governance: "I'll hold my hands up on behalf of David Triesman and say, in hindsight, it was a whole board decision and should have gone to the whole board.

"It did not go to the whole board."

After the hearing, Horne added: "He made a mistake."

Horne refused to identify the other executives involved in the decision but admitted at least some of them were still at the FA.

"I'm not comfortable sitting here naming four or five people," he said. "The decision has been reviewed internally and we hold our hands up to a corporate governance mistake.

"David (Lord Triesman) was the senior member involved as chairman of the association and clearly felt he had the authority to make that commitment. It was only after he left that the board questioned the decision."

The move had been taken to ward off interest from top Italian clubs at a time when Capello was still basking in the glory of a virtually impeccable qualifying campaign, with hopes high of a tilt at the ultimate prize in South Africa.

Unfortunately for England, it did not turn out that way and the FA spent almost a week deliberating over Capello's future following a calamitous 4-1 defeat to Germany in Bloemfontein.

Eventually they chose to retain Capello's services amid suggestions their task had been made harder by the removal of that break clause in his £6 million-a-year contract.

In fact, the Italian would still have been eligible for substantial compensation even if the break clause had not been removed and the FA had decided to activate it.

Triesman's successor David Bernstein admitted to a breach of internal FA regulations which he has vowed will not happen again while he remains head of the organisation.

"While I'm chairman, it won't happen again," Bernstein told the same inquiry. "I would ensure that proper governance is in place for those things."

Despite acknowledging the process of amending Capello's contract was inappropriate, Horne insisted those involved came to the right decision, despite England's dismal World Cup display.

"We were coming under a lot of pressure in the run-up to the World Cup for certainty over whether Fabio was staying or not," he said.

"Having qualified top of the group very comfortably, facing that uncertainty going into the tournament, it was exactly the right thing to do."

Capello has already won three out of four qualifying games this season, allowing Bernstein to offer wholehearted backing to the Italian.

"In 18 competitive matches, Fabio Capello has won 13, drawn three and lost two, one of which was a dead-rubber," he said. "Unfortunately the other was in a very important match at the World Cup, but we are top of our Euro 2012 qualifying group and hopefully we will stay there."