Sports minister Tracey Crouch has praised Football Association chairman Greg Clarke for finally delivering reforms to the way the national game’s governing body is run.

The FA’s shareholders approved a package of reforms at their annual general meeting at Wembley on Thursday, after decades of failing to move with the times.

The key factors in persuading the FA to reform itself were Crouch’s introduction of a new governance code for English sport and Clarke’s diplomacy.

The main changes are the streamlining of the board from 12 members to 10, with three seats reserved for women from 2018, the introduction of term limits and a revamped council.

Speaking to Press Association Sport, Crouch said: “I’m absolutely delighted the FA has understood the importance of good governance and implemented these reforms.

“And I pay tribute to Greg Clarke for making it clear that the FA is committed to complying with the new governance code. We want to set the gold standard for governance in sport around the world and this is a good start in setting out that position.”

Greg Clarke's careful diplomacy has been crucial in getting the FA to this point (Daniel Hambury/EMPICS)
Greg Clarke’s careful diplomacy has been crucial in getting the FA to this point (Daniel Hambury/EMPICS)

From November, any organisation that wants public money from grassroots funding body Sport England or elite agency UK Sport must comply with the code.

The FA received £30million from Sport England between 2013 and 2017 and stood to lose about £15million of that – as grants have fallen and it has already been given £5.6million for disability football and the women’s game – if it failed to reform.

Clarke also said he would quit if the FA failed to meet the code and the size of this task was illustrated in February when the House of Commons passed a “no confidence” vote in the FA’s ability to reform itself.

The former English Football League and Leicester chairman can therefore be justifiably pleased with his efforts, although he will know there are many who believe football’s real governance problems are more cultural than structural and changing that will be a much tougher.

The reforms mean the FA will now meet the new governance code introduced by sports minister Tracey Crouch (David Davies/PA)
The reforms mean the FA will now meet the new governance code introduced by sports minister Tracey Crouch (David Davies/PA)

Already unanimously backed by the FA board and council, the reforms were approved by at least 75 per cent of the FA’s 1,100 shareholders and will come into force on July 27.

In an FA statement, Clarke said: “This is a significant moment and a very positive step. Good corporate governance is essential for any successful organisation and these new reforms have the interests of football at their core. They will benefit all of English football.

“This is a good start but we don’t just want to be compliant with Sport England’s code for sports governance, we want to go beyond that. Our aim is to make English football for all and a more inclusive and diverse game.”

As well as the changes at board level, 11 new members will be added to the council to make football’s so-called parliament less male, old and white.

All council members will also have to be actively involved in the organisations they represent, so there will be no further appointments of life or senior vice-presidents, and those groups will lose their voting rights. The limit of three three-year terms will apply to both board and council.