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We need reforms to represent all, says West Yorkshire footy chief

By Jack Goodman

WEST YORKSHIRE’S top football boss has backed plans for reform of the Football Association and vowed to represent the interests of all.

Hannah Simpson, CEO of the West Riding FA

Hannah Simpson, chief executive of West Riding FA, compared her regional association – which she has led since 2012 – to the FA, and admitted there are problems within the body.

The call comes after five ex-FA executives – David Bernstein, David Davies, Greg Dyke, Alex Horne and David Triesman – stated “elderly white men” were holding the organisation back and were not representative of the people involved in football.

“My job is to reassure people that we will capture their opinions and reassure them that we will represent them properly,” she said.

“The people making the decisions have to be confident that they are representing people properly. If there’s a gap, that’s when they need to look into reform.”

The claims have been supported by the boss at a Leeds football club, who says too much funding is directed towards the Premier League.

Beeston St Anthony’s first team manager, Mark Halmshaw, highlighted the television deals in the top tiers of English football as a main reason why FA funding needs addressing – with more money being directed towards grassroots teams.

“It’s tough for us every year,” Halmshaw said. “We need to raise money ourselves for anything we need to do.
“We have to raise about 50 per cent of the funds ourselves for anything we do – so if we wanted to invest in some floodlights costing £40,000, we’d have to raise £20,000 ourselves.”

Halmshaw said that top teams took floodlights and changing facilities for granted, but that the cost of them could make the difference to whether grassroots football clubs succeeded.

“We’re lucky with our facilities at Beeston, but a lot of others in our league aren’t,” he added. “We moved into our new ground six years ago, and we did receive some funding, but it wasn’t enough.
“We had to raise £30,000 of our own money to make it happen. It just demonstrates how more money needs investing in grassroots.”

The top FA bosses made their demands for reform in a letter to Damian Collins, chairman of Parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport committee. They argued the FA board fails to act as an independent regulator.

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