England succession plan in place if Southgate leaves, insists FA chief

The Football Association’s chief executive, Mark Bullingham, has insisted the organisation has a succession plan in place for the possible departure of Gareth Southgate after Euro 2024.

Bullingham gave little away on the detail, preferring to reinforce Southgate’s line about the only focus being on success here in Germany, where England get under way against Serbia on Sunday night. Any discussion over what to do next in terms of Southgate’s future is to be parked until a post-tournament review.

Bullingham did say the FA had not spoken to any potential successors for Southgate, who is under contract to December. When asked specifically about whether Manchester United had been in touch as they deliberated over what to do with Erik ten Hag, who is now ­staying, Bullingham said they had not and nor had any other suitors.

“I’ve seen some things about have we got a plan or haven’t we?” ­Bullingham said. “Any organisation has a succession plan in place for their top employees and we are no dif­ferent to that. This succession plan normally includes everything from what you do for short-term cover through to a process you follow to candidates.

“I want to respect Gareth and the team; that 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.”

It has been understood previously that Bullingham would be open to the appointment of a non-English successor to Southgate and he was asked the question here. His answer took in how the England women’s head coach, Sarina Wiegman, is Dutch.

“We have two senior coaches – one of them is English, one of them is not,” Bullingham said. “Any ­federation in the world would always want to have a pool of top homegrown talent ­playing and managing at any time.”

The feeling with Southgate, after three previous tournaments in which his team have been semi-finalists, beaten finalists and quarter-finalists, is that it is win or bust for him at Euro 2024 – or very much in this territory.

Bullingham suggested it would not be the case, at least from the FA’s side. It is easy to feel the FA would want him to stay on in the event of, say, a freak defeat and that only a group stage disaster would ­compel them to act, although Southgate would probably jump in that scenario before they pushed him. The key ­factor is most likely to be the mood of the country towards Southgate after the tournament.

“I don’t think you can set a level [a stage of the 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 and hit the woodwork three times,” Bullingham said. “I think we step back and look at everything after the tournament.

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“Traditional international mana­ger contracts end 10 days after the tournament or whatever. You know that we have got longer than that [with Southgate]. We will evaluate everything after the tournament, see how he feels, see how we feel and see how the tournament has gone.”

Bullingham said the outside noise was not a problem for Southgate. “I don’t think it is distracting for him. He is used to it. He is in a great position and really positive.

“You know that I think the world of Gareth. He has done a phenomenal job. He has transformed the fortunes of our men’s senior team and that’s not just off the pitch, which a lot of people talk about 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. You know we value him massively.”

The Guardian