The Football Association is seeking to rebrand as the English Football Association in an attempt to dispel a perception of arrogance from counterparts in the international game.
The case for renaming the governing body was discussed by the FA board at its meeting at Wembley on Thursday having long been a bugbear of the outgoing chief executive, Martin Glenn. He described the name as “the ultimate expression of arrogance” shortly after his appointment in 2015 but has had to wait until the final few months of his tenure to address the issue properly.
Glenn and the FA chairman, Greg Clarke, put forward the case for rebranding to reflect the modern role of the organisation. The governance of the game in England would be overseen by the English FA, with the board discussing a proposal that would see the 28 England teams, national players, coaches, grassroots football and facilities come under the umbrella of “England Football”. The FA would remain the legal entity name of the organisation, and the name of the holding company.
The governing body is considering putting forward England as a potential host for the 2030 World Cup – it has been conducting a feasibility study since last summer, and spoke to executives from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland regarding a possible joint bid – but accepts it will need to build stronger relationships globally to gain international support. The Uefa president, Aleksander Ceferin, has praised the FA of late for overhauling the “arrogant” image of English football, with the rebranding part of that process.
The move would not prompt the renaming of the FA Cup, FA council, FA board or county FAs but would formalise a process that has led to FA officials referring to the “English FA” in recent international meetings. Rival federations have long resented the implication that, by calling themselves the Football Association, the English authorities have somehow set themselves apart.
“I think we are perceived as arrogant,” Glenn explained early in his tenure. “I don’t think we necessarily are but perceptions ... it does matter. We go to international conventions and say: ‘Hi, I’m Martin Glenn and I am from the FA.’ Which one? Obviously the English, because we invented it. Every other is the German association, the French association, we are so assumptive. Changing the name would possibly be a solution.”
Glenn tendered his resignation at the FA in December but, despite the search for his successor being well advanced, is likely to depart the organisation only in the autumn. The FA board will continue discussions on the renaming at its next meeting.
First published: www.theguardian.com