The FA’s bid to make Paul Elliott the first black member of their board remains in limbo after an explosive day of drama on Tuesday.
It began with the Football Association – pushing for better representation after being called out by Raheem Sterling last month – accusing the Premier League of blocking the move following a meeting last week.
Rupinder Bains, the only non-white member of the board, Football League chairman Rick Parry and Peter McCormick, chairman of the legal advisory group of the Premier League, are understood to have voted against the proposals.
Insiders claim it left Elliott stunned and Clarke fuming.
In a mid-morning open letter, Clarke lashed out: “We discussed a number of options including: making the chair of the inclusion advisory board [Paul Elliott] a director and giving the professional and national games an extra board seat each that could provide the flexibility to allow appointment of diverse candidates should they be the best qualified person for the role.
“Both our independent directors offered to stand down to create opportunities for a more diverse board but the board was united in declining their offer.
“The professional game were against such a review believing the changes introduced in 2017 were sufficient. The national game were sympathetic to a review and consultation with [the] council but did not want to oppose the professional game.
“However, without the support of the professional game and national game, who have a majority of directors, a review of the FA board composition is not possible.”
But after frantic lunchtime moves to ease tensions, Clarke rowed back on his comments hours later.
He said: “'The letter I wrote today to the FA Council was not intended to be divisive, it was in fact intended to highlight an issue that we all care deeply about across both the FA Board and the FA Council.”
By the evening, the Premier League responded: 'The original letter did not reflect the true nature of the discussions held at The FA Board meeting last week.
'It was agreed at last week’s FA Board meeting to undertake an evaluation of diversity and inclusion within The FA in a consultative but efficient manner.”
It still leaves unclear what the stakeholders’ plans are over Elliott and when – if at all – he will be voted onto the board.
The FA, the Premier League and the EFL remain well aware that they stand little chance of persuading clubs to be more diverse if they do not lead from the front on the issue.
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