10 February ~ Earlier this week Lord Triesman gave testimony to the parliamentary committee investigating the governance of English football. While many will have already known that a fractious relationship exists between the FA and the Premier League, the insights given by Triesman have only served to display how large the personal differences are, especially with Sir Dave Richards, the Premier League chairman.
Triesman claimed that the mysteriously knighted Richards was a bully, suggesting that he "will put his point politely in board meetings but discussions outside are extremely aggressive discussions, points are made in a very colourful manner. I wouldn't use that language. This is a very, very macho sport. I think some people have cultivated what they think of as being the language of the dressing room as appropriate elsewhere."
Richards countered the accusation of using "colourful" language by falling back on creaky parochialism: "For good or for bad, I speak my mind, and being a Yorkshireman I might not be as eloquent at speaking as some, but I say it as I see it."
On suggestions of bullying, he retorted that: "I am not a bully. I, nor the Premier League, block any change at the FA, we would not block change because we want change. We are a progressive organisation and I was personally involved in changing the constitution of the FA back in 1996 to form a board capable of being progressive."
For all Richards' bluster he has done little to counter Triesman's principle accusation that the Premier League has become "the ultimate authority in English football" with the senior clubs' interests continuing to hold sway over the rest of the game, from the grassroots level to the national team. If the government is to reform the way football is governed, it has to start by finding a way to breach the divide between the two bodies which, as personal emnities show, couldn't get much bigger. Joe Doyle