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England Ė letís move forward - 16/11/2003

England Ė letís move forward
Time to talk
   David Beckham
   Alan Smith
   Football Association

I canít believe the internal events of recent weeks between the FA and the England players, but after all the strife, itís time to move forward. Iíve spent some time working for the FA in recent years and I have full respect for the organisation. Instead of critising all concerned, I'd rather look forward to improving relations between both parties.

Whatís happened has happened, Mark Palios, in admitting a lack of structured policy for discipline, deserves a chance to put things right. Not many Chief Executives face the press in such an honest and open manner Ė and credit to him. People have to appreciate that heís relatively new into this position, and heíll have learnt an awful lot from the past month and now he has the chance to develop the FA, as an organisation, into a more professional body.

You can understand the frustration of the players - itís a team game, and when a member of your team is deemed to have been unfairly treated, itís to be expected that thereíll be a reaction. The fact that the Alan Smith saga is just the latest of incidents make it all the more flammable.

The 'ad-hoc' nature of past decisions has meant that there's been no hard and fast rules - grey areas where players don't know where they stand. The FA will now be making steps to introduce a new structure of both discipline and communication Ė and the players will no doubt play a part in the development of this structure. Iím sure the two sides will come together, sit down and agree a new working relationship. Let's get rid of these grey areas and agree a format that has the support of both sides. It can't be imposed on the players, the players have to contribute to the process in order to accept and agree to it.

In acknowledged that mistakes have been made, I hope that Mark Palios' honesty can be the first step towards progress.

Football has taken a bit of a battering in recent months, I think itís fair to say that the game and it's players need a better press. In an age when there's so many resources invested by both the FA and Premiership clubs, it's surprising that Ďpublic relationsí seem not to be a priority. The game needs to be promoted correctly in order for the popularity of football to be maintained or improved.

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