Friday, April 03, 2020
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For a sport that draws the majority of its participants from council estates, English football’s corridors of power have a surprisingly aristocratic feel. Not only do we have Lord Triesman (also a Baron) as chairman of the Football Association, but there’s Lord Mawhinney, head of the Football League. 


Who exactly are these two members of the gentry? To the untrained eye they may seem like your typical politicos - men who have painstakingly climbed the ladders of power. And that’s probably a fair thing to say. But there are a couple of telling differences between these two noble patricians. 


Firstly, both hail from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Whereas Lord Triesman was a card carrying member of the Communist Party in the 70s, Lord Mawhinney was a Conservative MP until 2005.  


Mawhinney also combines his political beliefs with stout religious fervour. He’s a prominent member of the Conservative party’s Christian fellowship – not something Triesman’s political beliefs will have allowed him to find solace in. 


Although you may also have expected these two members of high society to be Oxbridge graduates, this is not the case. Only Triesman received the prestigious education offered by Britain’s two leading academic lights. Mawhinney had to make do with a degree from Queen’s University Belfast, before going on to do his Ph.D. in Radiation Physics at the Royal Free Hospital in London. 


In terms of policies Mawhinney has acted contrary to what you would assume to be his laissez-faire conservative standpoint - throwing his support behind the introduction of a salary-cap in the lower leagues. Less surprisingly, Triesman has backed a similar proposal to limit wages in the Premier League. However, his insistence upon a GBP300k p/a salary for himself is somewhat at odds with Marxist ideals.  


Quite how these two men have risen to hold such prominent positions of power in our national game is a mystery. You can’t help but think that as a beardy liberal in the 70's, Triesman would have given scant regard to the feats of Don Revie and Bob Paisley – even in spite of their proletarian bent. As for Mawhinney, the terraces are a seemingly unlikely hangout for a student doing a physics PhD. 


Ultimately, though, the pasts of Lord Triesman and Lord Mawhinney are irrelevant. What’s important is that they know the game inside-out and are the right people to act in the interests of football in England from the grassroots through to the national team. Somehow you get the impression that these two old boys don’t quite fit the bill.     

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