FA chief sees common ground
In light of predecessor Lord Triesman's damning evidence to a Parliamentary Select Committee, it would appear to be optimistic. However, unlike Premier League chairman Sir David Richards, who has gone on the offensive over allegations he acts like a bully and his organisation is resistant to change, Bernstein's first public utterances since being confirmed as chairman nine days ago, did not include a knee-jerk rebuttal. Instead, Bernstein is taking a more measured view. The former Manchester City chairman has no interest in responding to any evidence put to the select committee, of which there is going to be plenty, until the FA take the stand at the end of March. However, whilst admitting there would always be some element of club versus country tension, Bernstein insists common ground can be established too. "Of course there are natural tensions and areas where there is a pull between club and country," he said. "But there is a great feeling of mutuality of interest. There are huge areas of crossover where the good of the national game is to the benefit of everybody. "I attended a Premier League meeting last week. I had excellent discussions with the executive, particularly Richard Scudamore and also with virtually all of the clubs. "I know many of them already through previous involvement and I really want to try and focus on the positives where we can." The problem is obvious. As Richards pointed out, there is no desire from the Premier League to subject themselves to any kind of FA interference and the evidence of this week alone does not bode well for influence being exerted on the clubs given Sir Alex Ferguson successfully persuaded the Serbian FA not to play Nemanja Vidic in Wednesday night's friendly with Israel. Bernstein may have more luck "building bridges" with UEFA and FIFA following the World Cup bid shambles. Even there though, the underlying issues go far deeper. Up to a few hours before that fateful vote in Zurich, when the depth of antipathy towards English football was revealed, the FA believed everything was fine. Last week, it was apparent our stock has hit rock bottom when we missed out on hosting the 2013 European Under-21 Championships to Israel. "I am going to be visiting Nyon on Friday to see Michel Platini with the aim of establishing and improving relationships with UEFA and then, later on, FIFA," said Bernstein. "I am very impressed with the organisation and the backing that the FA has and gives to the England team. "The people involved are terrific and a tremendous amount of work is done within the FA that doesn't get a lot of recognition, possibly because some of the top end issues get all the negative headlines." Bernstein should be bracing himself for more of that as the select committee continues its investigations. Sports Minister Hugh Robertson has described the FA as "the worst governed sport in the UK", whilst Triesman yesterday declared: "The decisions that really decide what is going to go on in English football are taken by the Premier League." Richards hardly dismissed that view with his own observations. "The FA is in control of football's governance, football's regulations and of football's discipline, and that is how it should be," he told soccernetespn.com. "If the FA wants to run the professional game, the leagues and the Premier League, then, of course, we all have a problem because the Premier League won't tolerate that kind of interference and we will fight our corner. "The FA needs to stick to their principles of governance, regulations and discipline. We are opposed to the FA running the Premier League." Bernstein countered: "It would be awfully tempting to comment on individual things that are said in front of the committee but I am not going to do it. "We will wait until we have our turn, then we will be free to say what we want to say across the whole state of the views that are given. "The FA are fully supportive of, and will fully co-operate with, the select committee. There is going to be much evidence and debate over the coming months. We will agree with some of it and disagree with other parts I am sure."