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Ex-FA member Rabbatts slams ‘untenable’ Dan Ashworth

Dan Ashworth’s position as technical director of the Football Association is ‘untenable’, according to former FA board member Heather Rabbatts.

Ashworth has come under scrutiny along with FA chairman Greg Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn after three inquiries were needed to establish that former England Women manager Mark Sampson made discriminatory comments towards Chelsea forward Eni Aluko and also Drew Spence.

Ashworth was responsible for the appointment of Sampson and is also set to lead the search for his permanent successor to lead the Lionesses.

FA technical director Dan Ashworth is in hot water in the wake of Mark Sampson axing

Rabbatts, who stood down from her position at the FA in June, does not believe that should be allowed to happen and felt Ashworth had allowed a ‘mono-culture’ to develop at the national training base at St George’s Park.

‘I think his position is untenable,’ Rabbatts said on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme.

‘He has been there since 2012, these issues have been raised – a lack of diversity, a lack of black coaches, the issue of Mark Sampson and Eni, these have all happened.

‘This is about professional judgement. It’s not that he (Ashworth) hasn’t tried, but that’s not enough.

‘You have the experiences that are set out before us and if you were to talk to black coaches who feel that they are never going to get these roles, then there has to be a time for a change.’

Sampson was eventually sacked last month following evidence of what the FA described as ‘inappropriate and unacceptable’ behaviour in a previous job. 

Sampson was sacked as England women's boss over claims of 'inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour' involving players at previous job while a coach at Bristol Academy

Sampson was sacked as England women’s boss over claims of ‘inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour’ involving players at previous job while a coach at Bristol Academy

On Wednesday, independent barrister Katharine Newton concluded in her final report that Sampson twice made discriminatory comments towards Aluko and team-mate Spence.

Glenn subsequently ‘sincerely apologised’ to the players over Sampson’s remarks before he, Clarke, Ashworth and FA director of HR Rachel Brace faced a grilling at a parliamentary hearing over their investigations into the issue.

Rabbatts added: ‘My really strongly held view is that something has to change.

‘One of the reasons I left slightly early in terms of being the first person of colour, the first woman on that board, is that this issue of the national football centre, which should be leading best practice, is a monoculture, and that is not acceptable.

‘In a way the story starts, not from the failures of internal investigations, but where you have a culture where comments can be made and clearly were made, and there isn’t an instant reaction that that is wrong, and that those comments are not appropriate.’

FA chairman Greg Clarke has been involved in inquiries after Eni Aluko's discriminatory allegations towards the former England boss

While chief executive Martin Glenn has also been dragged into proceedings

Ashworth was subject to three inquiries alongside Greg Clarke (left) and Martin Glenn

Rabbatts also said the ‘jury is out’ on the position of Glenn, while Clarke should be given more time to address the issues at the FA.

But the former executive deputy chair of Millwall reserved her strongest criticism for Ashworth.

‘Sampson and Eni Aluko all happened under his watch,’ Rabbatts added.

‘And I read today that he is now leading the search to replace Sampson, so when the FA says things are going to change, what is going to change?

‘As for Martin Glenn and the chairman, the jury is out. This issue of St George’s Park I firmly put on the chief executive’s agenda before I left.

Former board member at St George's Park Heather Rabbatts has scrutinised all three

Former board member at St George’s Park Heather Rabbatts has scrutinised all three

‘There is a view that these issues of diversity are not as important as the “big stuff”, the budgets and the profitability, but all the profits the FA has will not buy back its reputation.

‘If the chief executive and the chairman want to ensure they are still there with credibility then this has to be their number one priority and I’m not sure I see evidence of that so far.

‘The chairman has not been there long and he has to demonstrate how these issues are going to be addressed.

‘In terms of Martin Glenn I would find it difficult to give a vote of confidence unless I had a real insurance that change was going to happen, starting with the national football centre.

‘My view is that the leadership of the national football centre is untenable.’


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