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The Football Association - Organisation Design

The Football Association
Client The Football Association
Region UK
Sector Media, Entertainment and Technology
Offering Organisation Design

The Challenge

The FA oversees the governance of England’s national game, it delivers coach education and manages the national teams. Its aim is to support the England national team and do everything it can to ensure the players are challenging for trophies. Instead the team has suffered years of underachievement. We were brought after the FA had started reviewing its operations for the overarching report The FA Chairman’s England Commission, which was established to consider the lack of available quality English players appearing regularly at the top of English football. 

They found there were fewer qualified coaches at every level than anywhere else in Europe. The report also showed a systemic issue around how the coaches were valued in the English football system and underpinning that was the question: what do you learn from a coach, what skills do they need and what information did the FA have? As the owner of coach education, the FA didn’t have a clear view of how players and coaches made it to the top.

Our Approach

  • We looked at the organisation of how the FA ran coaching, how the set up could be improved to best support England’s national squads and make coaching in England world class. We also worked out the relationship between the number of available players and the number of qualified coaches at each level. 
  • We analysed the body’s support system and how the coach training programme worked. We talked to Premier League and Football league clubs and academy managers about what they wanted from coaches and how much the FA programme supported development of more and better coaches. 
  • We drew up a blueprint so the FA had a more robust structure to support football in England. We restructured the way the FA organised the support of its squads and made sure money was correctly allocated. We reorganised the coach education team and called for more coach trainers. Clear targets were agreed for the numbers of coaches needed at different stages. 

Key Outcomes

  • Following our work, the FA implemented our recommendations. As part of its streamlining operations, it made savings of £30m a year over several years.
  • We agreed on how to allocate its money so more could be invested in coach educators. We also agreed reform with a common set of coach competencies between the Elite Player Performance Plan and the FA. We then managed the interface of the HR business.
  • The first result was the creation of a group of full-time coaches with performance support for England squads. At the same time all of England’s staff, including support for England’s 24 national teams and coach educators, moved to St George’s Park.
  • We secured an agreement on training with the Premier league, who stopped trying to set up a parallel coaching education programme. We then reorganised the FA to save them 22% of the annual running costs - which helped pay for a number of artificial pitches – with the new structure cutting out a lot of duplication.
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