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The FA has taken steps to avoid a repeat of its embarrassment at Sam Allardyce’s brief reign as England manager by overhauling its recruitment processes.
An external company has been appointed to carry out comprehensive background checks on all coaching appointments and has been given the authority to delve into all aspects of candidates’ personal and family lives.
Allardyce lasted only 67 days in the England job before leaving by mutual consent in September after he was recorded having conversations about third-party ownership rules, as well as negotiating additional work as a keynote speaker in the Far East, which the FA deemed to be inappropriate. The FA insisted at the time that it had conducted due diligence on Allardyce and pointed out that his error of judgment was not related to any activities in his past, but has opted to introduce more robust background checks nevertheless.
As part of the new procedure, all job applicants for coaching and management positions will be made to complete rigorous questionnaires, in which they are asked to declare a range of minor offences, such as speeding fines, which will then be doubled-checked. The background checks will also extend to the family and friends of aspiring FA employees, who can expect to have any criminal behaviour of their closest confidants looked into.
It is unclear whether Gareth Southgate was subjected to such scrutiny before he was appointed as Allardyce’s successor last month, as he has been an FA employee since 2011, as head of youth development before becoming under-21 manager three years ago, and the governing body was sure that he had no skeletons in his closet, but the recruitment specialists will be used to vet all future appointments.
Steve Holland’s appointment as Southgate’s assistant has yet to be confirmed, although that delay is believed to be due to continuing talks with Chelsea over the terms of his release rather than any background checks because he has also worked for the FA for several years. An FA spokesman told The Times that recruitment processes were reviewed on a regular basis.
The FA’s next big coaching appointment is Southgate’s successor as England Under-21 manager, a post that was advertised on its website and in an email to all League Managers Association members this week. Aidy Boothroyd, the under-20s manager, is expected to apply, while Paul Clement, Bayern Munich’s assistant manager, and former Valencia coach Phil Neville have their admirers at the FA.
Interviews for the job will take place at St George’s Park on January 13, but an appointment may be delayed by the FA’s new vetting procedure. Tim Sherwood, the former Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa manager, is also believed to be interested and can point to his successes in developing young players such as Harry Kane at White Hart Lane to support his candidacy.
Dan Ashworth, the FA’s technical director, will lead the process, although Southgate will also have a significant input. The FA wants the manager to be in place well before the under-21s’ next game, a friendly against Germany in March, giving him several months to prepare for the European Championship in Poland in the summer. England have been drawn in group A, alongside the hosts, reigning champions Sweden and Slovakia.