‘No approaches’ for Southgate – FA chief


FA chief executive Mark Bullingham stated he has received “no approaches” for England manager Gareth Southgate but hinted that the governing body has a “succession plan” in place should he depart.

Southgate’s contract is set to expire in December after eight years in charge, and he has indicated that not winning Euro 2024 could mark the end of his tenure.

The 53-year-old has been rumored to be a potential candidate for Manchester United, although the club has decided to retain manager Erik ten Hag following a post-season review.

“We are sitting down after the tournament together and will talk about everything,” said Bullingham, when asked if he was keen for Southgate to remain in his role.

“Gareth has been really clear that he wants to talk about that after the tournament.

“I don’t want to provide any distraction for him and the team. I want to respect [that].

“I would say I think the world of Gareth, I think he has done a phenomenal job.

“I think he has transformed the fortunes of our team, and that’s not just off the pitch, and you can see the culture, but also the performances on the pitch.

“Since 1966, he has won about half of our knockout games, which is a measure we really use, so we value him massively.”

‘Succession plan in place for top employees’

Southgate has led his team to the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, the Euro 2020 final, and the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals in Qatar.

However, he told the German newspaper Bild that Euro 2024 might be his “last chance” to win a trophy with England.

Bullingham denied speaking to any potential successors, but said: “I’ve seen some things about have we got a plan, or haven’t we.

“Any organisation really has a succession plan in place for their top employees, and we are no different to that.

“That’s really all I want to say on that topic. Just because I want to respect Gareth and the team. They are very focused on the tournament, and we want to be supporting them with that focus. Clearly, you plan lots of different scenarios for all your top employees all the time.”

When asked if Southgate’s future would depend on how England did in Germany, Bullingham said: “I know why people would love for there to always be a really arbitrary level. But I don’t think you can set one for any tournament with any manager that you judge, because you could go further but be playing poorly, or have a really unlucky result where you get a couple of red cards.

“So I think setting an arbitrary figure isn’t the right way to go. I think we step back and look at everything after the tournament, see how he feels, see how we feel and see how the tournament has gone.”

When asked if he would want any successor to be a homegrown manager, Bullingham said: “We have two senior coaches. One of them is English, one of them [England women’s boss Sarina Wiegman] is not. Any federation in the world would always want to have a pool of top homegrown talent playing and managing at any time.”

‘No reason’ why Euros cannot be trouble-free

The opening Euros match for England against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday has been classified as high-risk, with local police expressing concern about the potential for violence. Additionally, fans will be limited to low-alcohol beer at the stadium.

“It is not something I would have a viewpoint on because obviously that is down to the police and Uefa,” said Bullingham.

“It is as much to do with the stadium and the vicinity as anything else. But that’s their call.

“I would say that our fans [at the Germany World Cup] in 2006 were the fans of the tournament and over the last few years we’ve shown our fans have been great supporters of the team and behaved well.

“There will be a lot of fans, and a lot of fans who haven’t travelled before because the last couple of tournaments away, we’ve had less than 5,000 fans, so it is a different dynamic. But our fans have been really good in the last couple of years, brilliant support for us and we hope that continues.

“The best thing that the fans can do to help us do well in this tournament is be a tribute to their country…the German police have proved they are really good at policing football tournaments, so there’s no reason why that shouldn’t be the case again. But really the main message is, ‘get behind the team and support in the right way’.”

Bullingham also said the FA is contributing at least £25,000 to help the UK Football Policing Unit to investigate and prosecute trolls who racially abuse England’s players on social media during the Euros.

Bukayo Saka, Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho were all targeted after missing penalties in a shootout in the Euro 2020 final defeat by Italy.

“What we don’t want to do is create an [evidence] pack that we give to the police and then they don’t have the resource to take that forward,” he said.

“So, we’re funding the police to make sure if there are instances of some of the vile abuse we’ve seen before, that it gets prosecuted.”