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Ex-FA head tells Tories to ‘grasp nettle’ and appoint football regulator

THE government was told by a former FA chairman to “grasp the nettle” today and appoint an independent regulator to take charge of the game — describing it as “unhealthy” and “out of balance.”

David Bernstein, who led the FA between 2011 and 2013, highlighted a number of areas of concern, including the now-defunct Project Big Picture, the link between football and dementia and the sport’s contentious handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The FA is looking for a new chairman after Greg Clarke resigned in November, apologising for using offensive language in comments he made to Parliament’s digital, culture, media and sport select committee.

Given the overall situation, Bernstein told talkSPORT that he wanted the government to take charge rather than allow another ineffective review.

“You’ve had Project Big Picture, which was an attempt really by the big six clubs to take a very powerful position in football and failed miserably.

“You’ve got an FA chairman resigning because of outmoded views on a number of things.

“You’ve got a huge difficulty in putting together a funding package and, when it was put together, the Championship part of it consists of possibly £200million of loans.

“You’ve got the long-standing issues of brain damage to players with heading and so on … and it’s a national scandal frankly.

“And now you’ve got this whole issue of players’ behaviour, which I think is causing potentially a lot of problems.”

He suggested that a regulator could take control “over a two or three-year period” before possibly handing power back to the FA.

“But it would need to be a modernised, reformed, independent Football Association,” he said.

In response, the FA referred to a statement it issued in October.

The statement reads: “The Football Association plays a vital role in governing and regulating English football and our league structure and ecosystem is the envy of the world.

“We work hard to maintain this system, with a clear focus on the wider game; not just serving the elite level, but the whole football pyramid and throughout the grassroots game.

“The FA has a clear direction and ambitious targets to ensure English football continues to be a force for good across every level of the game.”

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