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Kelly Smith backing ‘expertise and experience’ of Sue Campbell for next FA chair

UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 500 Days To Go – Wembley Stadium
(Image credit: John Walton)

Baroness Sue Campbell has all the “expertise and experience” needed to step into the role of the next chair of the Football Association, according to former England striker Kelly Smith.

Greg Clarke resigned as FA chairman on Tuesday after making a series of offensive remarks in an appearance before a parliamentary committee.

Campbell, the FA’s director of women’s football, has been mentioned as a possible candidate to succeed Clarke, with an appointment expected by the end of March 2021.

Baroness Sue Campbell has a wealth of experience from her time at UK Sport

Baroness Sue Campbell has a wealth of experience from her time at UK Sport (Chris Radburn/PA)

Smith, England’s record goalscorer from 117 caps, feels the 72-year-old former UK Sport chair – who helped oversee the hugely successful performance of Team GB at London 2012 – ticks all the boxes for the FA’s senior leadership role.

“She certainly has got the level of expertise and experience,” Smith told the PA news agency.

“(However), I am not too sure she would want that role, she is due to maybe retire (soon) having done all the good work that she has done within the FA so far.

“But she would be an ideal candidate, (with) her experience over the years and knowledge of working with UK Sport.

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“I don’t know what other names have been put forward, but there is an array of candidates I believe.”

Former Arsenal forward Smith, a Barclays football ambassador, added: “It definitely (should be about) the right person for the job, whether they are male or female.

“If they have that experience to move the game forward, to put things in place which will work, and get enough education out there into the clubs from grassroots up to the elite level.

“It is a difficult one, but I am sure they will appoint the right person.”

Les Ferdinand is another person to have been linked with the FA chairman role.

However, PA understands the 53-year-old QPR director of football is focused on his role with the Sky Bet Championship club.

Les Ferdinand (right) is focused on his role at QPR

Les Ferdinand (right) is focused on his role at QPR (Steve Paston/PA)

Ferdinand is one of a tiny number of black executives working in the professional game, and enjoyed a distinguished playing career with QPR, Newcastle and Tottenham as well as winning 17 senior England caps.

He has been outspoken on the game’s approach to diversity matters, and said in September the impact of players taking the knee had been “diluted”, adding in a statement on the club’s website that the gesture was now “not dissimilar to a fancy hashtag or a nice pin badge”.

Ferdinand is understood to be a member of Football’s Black Coalition (FBC) which was launched last month, and which will seek to push governing bodies to do more to tackle racism within the game.

Paul Elliott, the chair of the FA’s inclusion advisory board, is another reported potential contender.

Greg Clarke resigned from his position as FA chairman

Greg Clarke resigned from his position as FA chairman (PA Media)

Clarke, who has also stood down as a vice-president of the game’s world governing body FIFA, apologised during the appearance in front of MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee for using the word “coloured”.

He also said South Asians had “different career interests” to people from an Afro-Caribbean background, suggested a person’s sexuality was a “life choice” and recounted an anecdote about being told girls were afraid of having a football kicked at them.

The FA has appointed professional game board chair Peter McCormick as Clarke’s interim replacement.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham confirmed the aim is to have a permanent successor to Clarke in place by “the end of the first quarter” of next year.

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