If I had to start again: David Davies

... I'd align myself privately and publicly with someone of a business background. I realised that too late. My first big decision was to turn down £920-a-year in teaching for £902 at the Belfast Telegraph - which perhaps supports the view that my business background was insufficient for running the FA. I quickly went from papers to the BBC, and had 22 unbelievable years there. I even presented Songs of Praise.

by
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

I've been a football fan for more than 50 years. In 1993, the FA offered me the role of director of public affairs. My football friends said I wouldn't put up with it longer than three months. I left 12 years later, having become executive director, and had several spells as chief exec.

The highlight was simple: winning matches - from the 5-1 victory over Germany to beating Argentina in the 2002 World Cup. At those moments, I wouldn't have been anywhere else on the planet.

I call football the world soap opera, and perhaps appeared in too many episodes. Take the employment tribunal between the FA and my former PA Faria Alam - she tacked on last-minute allegations of sexual harassment against me, and that ghastly period lasted 11 months.

The nadir was an attempt to entrap me outside the front door of my flat, an experience I don't recommend. My family came through it, but the burden was there 24 hours a day. It changes you. People called me the great survivor - probably meant more as criticism than compliment. You need a strong sense of humour to survive the FA.

I left in 2006, at 58. We'd struggled with a dysfunctional structure and a lack of agreed priorities. But I'd had a good innings, and was young enough to do other stuff.

When I joined the BBC, my mum said: 'Television sounds like an insecure profession. I'd much prefer you went into banking.' I'm now regional chairman for London at Coutts. I went my own way. Despite all the heartache, I've had loads more fun than my contemporaries.

David Davies is the former executive director of the FA.

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