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Jan 16, 2013

Bernstein likely to leave FA this summer

David Bernstein has indicated that he may make a "clean break" from the Football Association when he leaves his role as chairman in mid-July.

With the rules stipulating that FA chairmen cannot serve beyond their 70th birthday, and the FA Council narrowly voting against an exemption in October, the 69-year-old, who previously acted as chairman for the French Connection fashion company and Manchester City Football Club, will seek pastures new in the summer.

Confirming his departure will come "in the middle of July", Bernstein suggested there was little prospect of remaining with the governing body.

"We'll have to see about that," he told journalists at the launch of The FA's 150th anniversary celebrations. "I'm a great believer in clean breaks, to be honest. When I left Manchester City [in 2003], I made a very, very clean break and I don't want to be the spectre at the feast."

There had been surprise when Bernstein was confirmed as the new FA chairman in December 2010, with former Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein having been the favourite for the post, but he has enjoyed a successful tenure and his focus for now, he said, is solely on ensuring his final six months "go as well as the last two years".

His priorities during the months to come, in addition to seeing the national team enjoy on-field success, will be looking to oversee "progress" in response to the Government report on improving the financial stability of the English game, as well as helping to foster a greater sense of respect in football.

"I'd like to see us beginning to implement the anti-discrimination programme that we've now put in place - it took a lot of hard work," he said. "The FA led the rest of football; football joined it. It's great to have done that.

"I think I'd like to see, in general terms, more progress on the respect issues, whether it be player on player, whether it be player on referee, whether it be crowd issues."

There is also hope that the FA can continue to build a more positive relationship with FIFA and UEFA. Bernstein memorably called for the postponement of the 2011 FIFA presidential election - when Sepp Blatter ran unopposed - and spoke of the need for a "genuinely independent" review of world football's governing body at a time when talk of bribery was rife.

Nonetheless, Blatter, along with UEFA president Michel Platini, provided video messages for the FA event on Wednesday and Bernstein feels the bodies are working well together.

"Even though I made that stand two years ago at the FIFA Congress that gives us added respect, I hope," he said. "I think we're in a better place than we were."

Bernstein is also hopeful England will be successful in its attempts to host some part of the 2020 European Championship, which will take place in a multitude of cities around the continent.

"We are focused on 2020 and seeing what we can get here for those Euros," Bernstein said. "We'll certainly be bidding for some part of it, but we can't tell you yet because things have to happen within UEFA with regards to where the final might be held and so on, but we'd certainly be interested in bidding for some part of 2020."

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