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By ESPN Staff

Age restriction to limit candidates for new FA post?

Two of the leading candidates to become the first independent chairman of the Football Association may find they are deemed too old to be appointed to the post.

FA article 87 stipulates that board members have to step down once they reach the age of 70 and that could prove a barrier to both Eddie George, the former governor of the Bank of England, and Football League chairman Lord Mawhinney being considered.

George turns 70 in 2008, the date when the new independent chairman is expected to take up the post, and Mawhinney - who is thought to harbour ambitions of being FA chairman - would be 68 that year and neither would therefore be able to fulfil a four-year term of office.

The appointment of an independent chairman was agreed by the FA Council last week as part of the proposals made by the Lord Terry Burns' review.

A senior FA figure said: 'There is a long way to go before we can even think of drawing up names but the age restriction of 70 on FA board members will be an issue.

'It would seem extremely strange to appoint an independent chairman who within a year or two would be ineligible to sit on the FA board.'

That situation strengthens the positions of younger prospects such as Kate Barker, the chair of the FA's financial advisory committee who is also a member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee and a key adviser to Gordon Brown.

Barker is 48 while Lord Patrick Carter, another strong candidate, is 60. Carter, who has recently stepped down as chairman of Sport England, is seen as a shrewd operator within FA circles after twice coming to their aid to sort out crises with the new Wembley stadium.

The appointment of an independent chairman is still some way off however - contrary to some reports, current chairman Geoff Thompson is expected to stay in office until his term expires in the summer of 2008.

The FA Council's vote to accept the changes has to be ratified by 75% of a full shareholders meeting, likely to be held in January, before the FA's articles of association are altered.

After that, a selection panel will be formed to draw up a list of suitable candidates and then carry out interviews before appointing a new chairman.

The independent chairman would have voting rights on a board of five directors from the professional game, and five from the amateur game. FA chief executive Brian Barwick would also have voting rights.

Currently, the board is made up of six from the professional game plus six from the amateur game and neither Barwick nor Thompson have voting rights - a situation which has led to numerous impasses with the directors being split.