Football Association Kicks off Search for Successor to Chief Executive Martin Glenn

ENGLAND, March 18, 2018 – The Football Association (FA) has kicked off a secret search for a successor to Martin Glenn, its chief executive, amid concern in its boardroom that he may quit after this summer’s World Cup in Russia.

Greg Clarke, the FA chairman, has drafted in the search firm Odgers Berndtson to identify potential replacements for Mr. Glenn, who has only been on the job for just over three years.

A number of external candidates are already understood to have been sounded out about the possibility of taking on one of the most important administrative jobs in British sport, although people close to the FA described the process as “normal succession planning”.

Mr. Glenn, a former boss of United Biscuits and the frozen food producer Iglo Birds Eye, has not submitted his resignation or indicated a firm timetable for wanting to leave, sources said on Wednesday.

However, a number of colleagues believe he may step down within months of the World Cup, with England kicking off their campaign against Tunisia on 18 June.

One source close to the FA said there was “no chance” that Mr. Glenn would still be in the role when the Euro 2020 tournament – part of which will be played in England – kicks off in just over two years’ time.

The FA chief has presided over a big increase in participation in the women’s game as well as substantial investment in St George’s Park, the Staffordshire complex where members of England’s World Cup-winning under-17s and under 20s sides were developed.

Mr. Glenn has also overseen a sharp improvement in the FA’s financial position since joining in 2015, and helped to smooth progress towards the introduction of a winter break for Premier League clubs.

On the negative side, Mr. Glenn, a Wolverhampton Wanderers supporter, is said by friends to have become jaded following a series of rows, including one triggered by recent comments he made comparing the Star of David to the swastika.

The FA chief had been discussing the yellow ribbon worn by Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager, to demonstrate solidarity with imprisoned Catalan politicians, arguing that all political symbols should be banned from football.

He was also forced to deal with the fallout from the controversy over Mark Sampson, the former manager of the England women’s team, who was accused of bullying, racist and discriminatory behavior before being sacked last year.

Among other challenges he has faced were the appointment and rapid departure of Sam Allardyce, Gareth Southgate’s predecessor as England manager.

The FA is in the process of reshuffling other board members, with Roger Devlin, one of two independent non-executives, due to step down in the coming months.

He is being replaced by Stacey Cartwright, who recently resigned as chief executive of Harvey Nichols, the department store chain.

If Mr. Glenn does leave without a successor in place, Mr. Clarke would be likely to assume executive duties on a temporary basis, according to insiders.

The FA released the following statement on Wednesday: “The FA in accordance with good corporate governance is conducting a talent mapping exercise for future CEO succession. This is not a recruitment process and there is no current or planned timeline for Martin Glenn to leave The Football Association.

“He remains committed to leading the modernization of the organization and uniting the game to make English football a better game for all.”

Robert Baron
Partner & National Practice Leader, Real Estate & Infrastructure

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