Former BBC Dir General Greg Dyke "is to become the next chairman of the Football Association," according to to Ashling O'Connor of the LONDON TIMES. The 65-year-old has been proposed by the FA exec board as "the preferred candidate to take over from David Bernstein as independent chairman." His appointment, subject to ratification by the FA council, "will be seen as striking a balance between the competitive tensions within football between the grassroots and profressional games." Dyke has club experience "at both the top and lower divisions." He will have to stand down as Brentford FC chairman at season's end, but has "a down-to-earth demeanour that will appeal at the community level." Dyke said, "Football has always been a big part of my life, whether playing 11-a-side on Sunday mornings or six-a-side on Thursday evenings. I was brought up in a household where my father was much more interested in whether or not you had won at football than whether you had passed your exams. In my case that was just as well" (LONDON TIMES, 3/21).
CALL TO DUTY: In London, Roger Blitz reported the role of FA chairman involves "meeting the demands of government for the FA to reform its antiquated ways, and control the spiralling costs in the game." Such issues brought Bernstein and his predecessor, David Triesman, "into conflict with ministers and others in the football hierarchy" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 3/21). Dyke added: "Obviously as chairman of the FA it is imperative that I am neutral so that means giving up my current role as chairman of Brentford, which I will miss. However I shall be staying on until the end of the season. Bernstein said, "I would like to congratulate Greg Dyke on his nomination to succeed me in July as FA chairman. I wish him every success in this stimulating but demanding role" (London INDEPENDENT, 3/21).
CLEAR VISION: BLOOMBERG's Alex Duff reported Dyke said it is "essential" the FA finds a way to ensure English players get a chance to play professional football at an elite level. Teams in Europe’s five richest leagues, including the Premier League, "developed as few as 17 percent of their players from their youth teams last year," according to the CIES Football Observatory in Neuchatel, Switzerland (BLOOMBERG, 3/21). In London, James Olley reported Dyke "has a track record as a likeable and approachable leader" in a career that has included key roles at the BBC, Channel 4, London Weekend Television and Channel 5. However, what the FA needs is "someone with a clear vision of how to govern English football and rise above the vested interests which so often dilute its effectiveness" (EVENING STANDARD, 3/21).
Two police helicopters "collided over Berlin's iconic Olympic Stadium during a securtiy exercise," killing one of the pilots, according to the LONDON TIMES. The aircraft "crashed at low altitude during a spring snowstorm" as it "practised for operations against football hooligans." Four people were injured in the accident. A witness, John M., said on German news channel NTV: "Three helicopters were in the air. It was a real snowstorm, suddenly we heard a bang and someone shouted 'Everybody down.' Then there was blood everywhere" (LONDON TIMES, 3/21). BILD reported that the crash occured at 10:30am local time, when two helicopters from type Super-Puma and EC155 collided. They crashed on the Maifeld, which is located right next to the Olympic Stadium. A federal police spokesperson said: "The state police and prosecution have opened investigations into the cause of the accident." Germany Interior Secretary Hans-Peter Friedrich said, "Our thoughts are with the families of the victims" (BILD, 3/21).
FIFA Presidential Advisor Jerome Champagne said that football has reached the point where it must "choose between becoming an elitist sport, dominated by a handful of rich clubs and leagues, or a universal one," according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. Champagne said that the sport "needed a radical overhaul to help it stop the drain of talent to a few rich European clubs and to help it flourish worldwide." The former diplomat said that even once powerful clubs such as Portugal's Sporting have become "suppliers of players" for the major European leagues while fans in many countries follow England's Premier League more closely than their own championship. Champagne: "We tend to misrepresent the game by thinking the game is about the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. In reality, it is about players whose salaries are not paid and clubs who are on the verge of bankruptcy." Champagne said that FIFA could "potentially play a role" in leveling the playing field. However, focus on FIFA recently has been on the corruption scandals which had "engulfed the governing body." He said, "Scandals have always existed in football. We should re-focus on the wider issue which is which kind of football do we want for the 21st century, elitist or universal? Some of these scandals have been diverting attention of the good things FIFA is doing" (REUTERS, 3/21).
National Rugby League Cronulla Sharks board member Craig Douglas "defended the money his club was spending on legal advice to navigate the Sharks through the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority investigation as a 'necessity,'" but refused to confirm suggestions advisor and former ASADA deputy Chair Tricia Kavanagh was receiving A$6,000 ($6,262) per day for her services, according to Lane & Prozenko of the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD. Douglas is among 24 candidates "who will contest the board election on April 16." Douglas did not appreciate it when Fairfax Media raised the figure purportedly being paid to Kavanagh, "who recommended coach Shane Flanagan be stood down and four members of his staff dismissed because they supposedly withheld information about alleged doping practices." The Sharks also engaged the services of Alan Sullivan QC "when it was suggested up to 14 players could be stood down because of the program alleged to have taken place during sports scientist Stephen Dank's stint at Cronulla." Douglas: "I'm not going to discuss individuals' remuneration or the fees that they charge, that's inappropriate. This isn't the time to skimp. Yes, we're still engaged with our lawyers, and Tricia Kavanagh is still working with us, absolutely" (SMH, 3/22).
ROUND TWO: In Sydney, Brent Read wrote former Cronulla center Mark McGaw "is ready to make a return to the embattled club in the boardroom." McGaw "has nominated to run at next month's board elections." He is among 24 nominees for the April 16 vote, a group that also includes former Chair Damian Irvine, former Olympian Damian Keogh and former Assistant Police Commissioner Mark Goodwin, "who was one of the faces of the police during the Cronulla riots" in '05 (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/22). Also in Sydney, McDonald & Read wrote "players and officials from both sides of the border yesterday raised concerns that State of Origin could be the next major event affected by the drug scandal." Under the timeline outlined by NRL CEO Dave Smith on Wednesday," infraction notices and subsequent standing down of players could begin the week Origin players go into camp to begin preparing for the opening game of the series at ANZ Stadium on June 5." While there is no suggestion any Origin players have done anything wrong, "there is a very real prospect that drug hearings could steal some of the thunder from the game's showpiece event" (THE AUSTRALIAN, 3/22). THE AGE reported "the contentious 'loophole' allowing players to avoid a positive strike to illicit drugs by self-reporting may be closed on Friday. Australian Football League Players' Association CEO Matt Finnis said that "there had been agreement that modifications to the league's three-strikes were required" (THE AGE, 3/22). In Sydney, Daniel Lane wrote "the owner of the company that supplies 11 NRL teams and seven AFL clubs with their protein and vitamins expected supplement programs to come under the spotlight as the investigation into drugs in sport continues." Body Science Owner Nathan Picklum, "made his comment as some NRL clubs suggested forming panels consisting of the club's doctor, strength and conditioning staff and members of the football office to document every vitamin or supplement their players consumed." Picklum: "The [ASADA] investigation hasn't impacted on us because clubs are still making their orders...We're very stringent. We have to be, we can't afford even a one in a million chance we might compromise an athlete" (SMH, 3/21).