Thank you for sending me a copy of the letter you have sent to the Board. I recognise your strength of feeling on this issue but I am sorry that you felt that you had to make your concerns public.
Personally, as the instigator and organiser of the Commission, I was surprised by your comments as they seem to imply that somehow we have got to where we are because of a lack of understanding in the area of diversity.
As you know I have long been a champion of inclusion in society and I think my credentials in this area are pretty strong. I spent part of my early life working in community relations; you were on the Board of the BBC when I, as Director General, described the organisation as 'hideously white' for which I received great press criticism; you were also on the Board when I introduced a comprehensive plan to ensure more ethnic minorities were employed at all levels at the BBC – something we achieved.
Only two weeks ago, you and I discussed ways of making organisations take their responsibilities in this area more seriously – we both agreed we want action not ineffectual policy papers on race – and in my brief time at The FA I have met with both Herman Ouseley, the Chairman of 'Kick it Out' and Trevor Phillips, the former Chair of the Equalities Commission, to discuss overall policy in this area. It is an area I have long cared about.
The make-up of the Commission has been moving for some time but I did explain to you and the Board that we planned to appoint two or three additional members and would have done so this week had the issue of Roy Hodgson’s dressing room comments not blown up.
I do accept we made a mistake announcing only part of the membership of the Commission when we did, but to suggest we never considered the ethnic balance of the Commission is unfair.
We originally had Clarke Carlisle as a member but the PFA decided they would rather have their new Chairman on the Commission and we also identified other individuals from the BAME community who we felt would add strength and value to the Commission.
Unfortunately, as they are active in football on a day-to-day basis, they felt the time commitments would be prohibitive. As you know, we still want to see people with relevant experience from the BAME community on the Commission and giving evidence to it.
As I described at the Board and Council meetings this week, we are planning an exhaustive and fully inclusive process. We will be looking for input from groups of like-minded people, be they players, managers, coaches or supporters and taking views and ideas from everyone who has an interest in the development of players to fulfill their potential.
Heather, we go back a long way, we’ve been friends for a long time and I’m sorry if this has been a difficult issue for you but, as you know, the aim of the Commission is two-fold.
The first is to try and strengthen the England team going forward. The second is to ensure that talented English kids, whatever their ethnicity or creed, are able to fulfil their potential to play at the highest level in English football, something which currently we are not sure is happening.
If we can make some progress towards achieving both these aims it will have done a good job.