LONDON — The English Football Association is facing a no-confidence vote in the House of Commons and the enforced overhaul of decision-making functions dominated by "elderly men." British legislators made the announcement after being told by former FA leaders that the governing body's failure to challenge the financial might of the Premier League contributes to the England team's "embarrassing failures."
In a letter to the parliamentary committee overseeing sport, five ex-FA executives called for the appointment of a football regulator to modernize their former employer and make it more representative of modern society. The committee's head said he is planning to introduce legislation to impose governance reforms on the FA.
The FA is coming under attack from former executives and legislators while trying to grapple with the biggest crisis in its 153-year history over past sexual abuse of youth team players. The FA's limited response when allegations first surfaced against coaches and clubs in the 1990s is subject of an internal review, while police forces across the country have opened investigations.
The England national team has also gone through a year of turmoil, with a loss to unfancied Iceland in the round of 16 at the European Championship leading to the departure of manager Roy Hodgson. Successor Sam Allardyce was then forced out after one game over unguarded comments to journalists posing as businessmen, and Gareth Southgate was hired in the continuing quest to produce the country's first trophy since the 1966 World Cup.
The lack of success on the international stage is in part a result of governance failings within the FA, according to Greg Dyke, David Bernstein and David Triesman, the past three FA chairmen, ex-general secretary Alex Horne and former executive director David Davies.
In their letter to legislators, the quintet expressed hope that the "woeful lack of English players or managers and the embarrassing failures of our national team for the past 50 years" is redressed by changes to decision-making bodies.
They complain that the Premier League holds too much sway over English football "due to their financial might and the way financial contributions are wielded at every turn to assert beneficial positions." The FA has little oversight of the world's richest soccer competition, which was the result of a 1992 breakaway from the Football League by leading clubs.
"It is little wonder that English football is out of balance," wrote Dyke, Bernstein, Triesman, Horne and Davies. "The FA has neither the modernity of approach nor independence required to counter the EPL juggernaut, or to modernize its own governance."
They highlight how those in senior positions in FA structures are by "a significant majority, white, elderly men" and "collectively unrepresentative of English society and English football in 2016."
Those concerns are shared by Damian Collins, chairman of the culture, media and sport committee, who said he wants the FA Council to have a more inclusive membership and term limits of 10 years.
"There is currently no effective governing body for football in England that is capable of responding to the challenges that face the modern game," Collins said, outlining plans for a parliamentary vote expressing "no confidence" in the FA.
"The committee is working with the parliamentary authorities to prepare a draft bill to deliver the necessary reform to the structure of the FA."
Such a move could flout FIFA's rules banning "any form of political interference" in federations.
The FA insisted that it was "currently working on governance reforms." In a sign of the tensions within the English game, the Premier League said the FA had "failed to deliver" reforms and trumpeted its own investment in facilities.