Welsh gag against the English is an ugly own goal
Chief executive’s throwaway remark about the next manager is actually a serious error,
The last thing required from a person in power is anti-english bigotry and discrimination
What is it about seemingly intelligent men who once held high rank in the marketing world swaggering into sport and proceeding to conceptualise a whole new brand of dumb?
Jonathan Ford, the chief executive of the Football Association of Wales, has yet even to begin to descend to the Martin Glenn level of mismanagement at the Football Association, but at the very least he has shown potential this week.
Like Glenn, Ford was something of a “name” in the corridors of commerce, having risen through the ranks at Coca-cola where, in his own modest Linkedin summary, he developed into a “world-class business strategist” and “an accomplished communicator, motivator and inspirational leader”.
Indeed, since appointing him in 2009, the FAW has become increasingly certain that, no, “you can’t beat the real thing”, as its annual revenue has more than doubled. That might have more to do with Gareth Bale and their first major finals in 58 years, than Ford’s “significant modernisation programme”, but credit where it is due.
The national team have never been in a better place, with a loyal support an integral part of the journey. No doubt, it was with a bow to this hard core that Ford spoke to BBC Wales on Tuesday about the search to replace Chris Coleman.
“We’ve always favoured Welsh people because, arguably, the passion is there,” Ford said. “Somebody said this earlier, Welsh most definitely, foreign possibly, but definitely not English.”
Apparently, Ford could not resist relaying this “gag”. There has been no FAW statement yet clarifying the official line, but we have been assured that Ford said it “tongue in cheek”. We can only pray this is right. With all the chants in the stands, the last thing required is discrimination and anti-english bigotry from a supposedly responsible person in power, even from one brought up in leafy Herefordshire.
One would think that someone with Ford’s track record would have the prescience to envisage the impact of a message given via a media platform, considering that, erm, was his job. This needless controversy could put off candidates who may be very suitable, despite their nationality.
It is a long shot, but Eddie Howe could find the opportunity of coaching Bale tempting if he suddenly decides he has had enough of the Premier League. But then, maybe Ford would go searching for some ancestry to make Howe eligible. He would not necessarily have to be Welsh, just “not English”.
Sam Allardyce would qualify through his Scottish father, Steve Bruce through his Irish mother … this is the absurdity to which Ford has opened himself – and, more importantly, Welsh football – and it is fair to question his sagacity.
Glenn and others have long provided substance to the notion that sport gives business far too much respect when it comes to headhunting its “inspirational leaders”.
What is OK for billion-dollar industries plainly might not be in the meaningless land of irrelevant pursuits.
Ford has done no favours to those of us involved in occasional social media run-ins with critics claiming Welsh success to be built on converted Englishmen.
Adrian Durham, the enthusiastic Talksport host, jumped at Ford’s nonsense, asking: “So, if Ashley Williams one day wants the job, they’d say no?” Williams, the Wales captain, was born and raised in the Midlands and gets in through a maternal grandfather.
Durham had every right to highlight the hypocrisy, whether it was in jest or not. For Welsh football, Ford’s “quip” was too close to home on so many different levels.
Patriot games: Wales captain Ashley Williams was brought up in the Midlands