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Triesman slams 'aggressive' Richards

Former Football Association chief Lord Triesman has accused Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards of using aggressive tactics to pressurise others in the game into blocking the FA's efforts to change.

The peer, giving evidence at the opening session of a Parliamentary inquiry into football governance, highlighted the Premier League in general and Richards in particular as having too much power over the sport.

Triesman, who had been the first independent chairman of the FA, said Richards used implicit threats over the financial power of the Premier League to get his way. The main confrontation came last year when the professional game's representatives blocked the FA sending in a blueprint for change to then culture secretary Andy Burnham.

Asked about Richards using bullying tactics, Triesman told the Culture, Media and Sport select committee: ''My experience is he will put his point politely in board meetings but discussions outside are extremely aggressive discussions, really aggressive discussions, points are made in a very colourful way. I wouldn't use that language.''

Asked about claims in a recent book that Richards had threatened to withdraw top-flight clubs from the FA Cup - which he denied to the author saying ''b****cks'' - Triesman replied: ''That has a terrible ring of authenticity.''

Triesman's remarks are a renewal of old hostilities - even before his resignation last year following a Sunday newspaper sting, he had fallen out with the Premier League after he criticised levels of club debt.

Regarding the issue over the FA's document responding to former culture secretary Andy Burnham, Triesman said the Professional Game Board - FA board members representing the clubs plus Richards as Premier League chairman - had already decided to block it and that it took ''a maximum of two minutes'' before being kicked into touch.

Triesman said: ''The Professional Game Board is led by the most powerful voice in professional football because that controls such a high proportion of the money that flows through the game.

''The point was made by the chairman of the Premier League that this [the FA's submission] should be disregarded from that point on and to simply acknowledge the work done by the Premier League principally and the professional game, and reminding the representatives of the amateur game there where their money came from.''

Triesman also said that an idea by former FA chief executive Ian Watmore to have a group of advisers drawn from more ethnically-diverse backgrounds, and with more women, was also ''dismissed after about two minutes on the grounds that all the talent that was needed was in the room''. Adding: ''There is no appetite for change.''

FIFA has also come under fire from England's former World Cup bid leader for setting ''a completely false prospectus'' at the start of the World Cup bidding process.

Triesman said that England had been given encouragement to bid because FIFA feared poor financial returns from South Africa and Brazil in 2010 and 2014.

''I think there will be a time when the contact that I and others had with members of the FIFA executive committee should be described in detail because some of the processes I don't think stand up to proper scrutiny,'' he said.

''When we set off on the bid there was a huge amount of encouragement from FIFA - because we could do it, create tremendous returns, organise events of those kind and handle security.

''Had they said at the time that the aim was to break into new territories, then I would have advised the FA board not to start in the first place on what turns out to be a completely false prospectus.''


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