Palios resigns over ‘affair cover-up'

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Football Association chief executive Mark Palios resigned on Sunday night after it was revealed that a senior executive had offered details of Sven-Göran Eriksson's affair with an FA employee to a newspaper in return for dropping references to Palios from the story.

In taped conversations, Colin Gibson, FA director of communications, is said to have offered to reveal details of the England coach's affair with secretary Faria Alam in return for the News of the World omitting the fact that Palios, too, had had a relationship with her.

That cover-up, rather than the original innocuous affair between single people, has now cost Palios and probably Gibson, who also resigned on Sunday night, their jobs and may force others to quit the FA.

"I am very sad that I feel this is necessary," said Palios. "It has been a privilege to be chief executive of the FA but with privilege comes the burden of responsibility. And it has been important for me to take the ultimate responsibility for everything the FA has done. Personally, I do not accept that I have been guilty of any wrongdoing."

At the end of last week it looked as if Eriksson was the most likely casualty. The FA had initially denied the affair but was then forced to admit that it had taken place. The embarrassing U-turn led FA chairman Geoff Thompson last Tuesday to launch an inquiry into the details of the case to see if Eriksson, or indeed anyone else, had misled the organisation.

The 12 members of the FA board meet on Thursday to discuss the conclusions of Thompson's inquiry but after yesterday's revelations Palios' resignation was inevitable. Gibson made it clear in a statement that he was acting under Palios' orders when he tried to do a deal with the newspaper.

Also under threat is Thompson, who said on the day that he announced the internal inquiry that Palios had given him "categorical assurances . . . he did not mislead or attempt to mislead the FA or its officials. I am satisfied by the chief executive's reassurances". He will now regret those comments.

Palios, a former player, is an accountant by profession and was hired to restructure the FA and its finances. He had a reputation for straight dealing, which was only enhanced after he faced down a strike threat by England players over the suspension of Rio Ferdinand for missing a drugs test.

But his honeymoon period quickly ended after clashing with Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson over the Ferdinand case.

Palios said in a recent FT interview that from day one his efforts had been aimed at "trying to become a credible governing body". Ironic then that his actions and those of some of the people around him have had the opposite affect.

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