The Football Association has aadmitted that changes made to Fabio Capello's contract on the eve of the World Cup were a "corporate governance mistake".
Appearing before a committee of MPs, the general secretary, Alex Horne, said the removal of a break clause in the Italian's contract – which became controversial in the wake of England's dismal performance in South Africa last summer – should have been referred to the board.
Horne blamed the episode on the former chairman Lord Triesman, who was forced to resign last May following a tabloid sting that was later the subject of a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission. "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," he said. "It did not go to the whole board.
"The decision has been reviewed internally and we hold our hands up to a corporate governance mistake. David 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."
Sir Dave Richards was the chairman of Club England at the time the clause, which allowed either side to break the contract, was removed amid speculation about Capello's future. Horne refused to reveal the "four or five" board members who were involved. But Triesman said he had never discussed the contract in detail, and had offered only general assurances to Capello that the break clause would not be invoked after the media furore over the Capello Index, an online players' rating index.
"I was never shown his contract. If there was any contract for a senior member of staff, I'd have brought it to the board at the point at which it was due to be signed," said Triesman, who said he had left by the time detailed negotiations took place. "Had I been around when the final discussion took place, that is exactly what I would have done.
"At no time did I see or was asked to look at a negotiated change of any kind. I never saw a word of Capello's contract then or at any time afterwards."
Horne said the FA's rules had been changed in August to ensure that a similar situation in the future would lead to a discussion by the entire board.
Triesman's successor, David Bernstein, vowed the situation would not be allowed to reoccur. "While I'm chairman, it won't happen again," he told the same inquiry. "I would ensure that proper governance is in place for those things."
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