Last updated : 30 May 2007 By Ed

From the Guardian on the changes that will happen in the FA

The Football Association last night began the search for its first independent chairman after the governing body's shareholders approved the adoption of fundamental changes to the organisation.

A majority of 78.5% of the FA's shareholders voted to adopt reforms proposed by Lord Burns in his structural review of the organisation, clearing the way for the appointment of an independent chairman to break the deadlock on the board, and the expansion of the FA Council to include supporters' groups, referees and representatives of the women's game. (Ed. NWAF)

Although the result represents a significant victory for Brian Barwick, the chief executive, Geoff Thompson, the chairman, and Simon Johnson, head of corporate affairs, who have campaigned for the Burns reforms to be adopted for over a year, the result received a more cautious welcome from Lord Burns himself.

"I am pleased that the vote has been successful, even if it has taken a rather long time to be adopted," he said. "I would of course have liked to see more independence on the board because I think it could be problematic for the chairman if he has no independent support other than the chief executive, who himself is not entirely independent. On the whole, however, I'm pleased."

Barwick, who will also received a vote on the new board, welcomed the result, heralding it as a vote for change. "Today's decision marks the start of an exciting new era for the Football Association and the end of a very complex process. This was a vote for change, and for a modern, representative and effective FA which is better equipped to take decisions in the wider interests of the game."

The result also vindicates the sports minister, Richard Caborn, who instigated the review after the Faria Alam scandal that cost Barwick's predecessor, Mark Palios, his job. "From Sunday league to Premier League, this is an important day for football in England," Caborn said. "In particular, introducing an independent chair and breaking the decision-making deadlock at board level, will at last give English football a governing body capable of making decisions for the good of the game as a whole."

The changes, the majority of which will come into force this summer, are intended to modernise the organisation and specifically to end the deadlock between the amateur and professional game factions that has dogged the FA for years.

In addition to the independent chairman and the reduced board, the FA council will expand to better reflect the game with managers, women, referees and the PFA represented along with supporters. The FA's numerous committees will also be restructured and disciplinary matters will pass to a semi-autonomous body, the Football Regulatory Authority.