The Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn has admitted that the Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger would “fit the criteria perfectly” as the next England manager and indicated that he is not wedded to the idea of appointing an Englishman as Sam Allardyce’s successor.
Glenn, who also said that Allardyce could potentially face a fine or ban from football for bringing the game into disrepute by stating that FA third party ownership rules could be flouted, is ideally looking for someone with Premier League experience and believes that the most successful international managers are in their 60s.
Wenger, 66, who marks his 20th anniversary as Arsenal manager this weekend, turned down the job when approached by the FA after Roy Hodgson was sacked this summer but he did not rule out the idea when asked on Friday. “I don’t know. I ruled nothing out because I want to work but it can end tomorrow. It’s a love story,” he said.
Asked if Wenger, out of contract this summer, may be using England’s dire need of a replacement for Allardyce as a negotiating device, Glenn said: “I am not commenting on that. Of course he’d fit the criteria perfectly. Of course he would, as would a few others.” Reminded of Wenger’s contractual position, he replied: “He’ll be out of contract at the end of the season.”
Glenn insisted that the selection criteria had not changed because of Allardyce’s dismissal – a decision the FA reached after 90 minutes’ deliberation on Monday afternoon, having given the 61-year-old an hour to explain why he had told undercover reporters that it was possible to “get around” third party ownership of players.
“If you look at the track record of success [among] international managers, they are usually older,” said Glenn, who has seen 38-year-old Eddie Howe widely touted as the best candidate this week. “That’s a fact, but it doesn’t mean [our next manager has] to be. They have had an experience in the game and the average age of a successful manager is probably in their 60s… Being English is a benefit; a bonus. But if we are saying he absolutely has to be English then we narrow the field too much.”
Glenn’s instinctive reaction when news of Allardyce’s excruciating talk to journalists posing as Far East football investors with £400,000 to pay him was to look for a way of saving him. But he sacked him at around 3.30pm on Monday because he and FA chairman Greg Clarke concluded that Allardyce’s conduct would be thrown back in their faces every time they imposed disciplinary action on a club side.
“Every time there was a marginal call we judged we would have Sam Allardyce thrown back at us,” Glenn said. “We just thought our ability to operate was compromised. It was going to be a drag on us for a considerable period of time.
“If you are there to be the rule enforcer of the game it is an impossible position… How do we stand up in front of clubs and say ‘we want you to do x, y and z’ when [not sacking him] would have been sort of condoning the circumventing of rules?”
Glenn said that a decision on a disciplinary charge would be made by the FA integrity unit, which is at arm’s length from the FA in the interest of probity. “You could guess that bringing the game into disrepute might be a possible charge… It could range from a fine to a ban. That’s what the history shows. That’s for a tribunal to decide.” Allardyce could face investigation by the Inland Revenue, for possible conspiracy to avoid tax, as well as police inquiries.
Four players signed by Allardyce to Bolton Wanderers were among 17 suspicious deals raised by the Stevens inquiry launched and funded by the Premier League in 2006, which Fifa never got to the bottom of when asked. But Glenn said that this had not been considered a problem. “There were no inquiries under way that would implicate him,” he said. “Nothing had happened since  apart from Sam continuing to be seen as a strong player in the game.”