Football Diary

by Patrick O'Connor

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COULD football be set to get its first female manager?

The subject cropped up following a BBC TV documentary entitled Sexism In Football which looked at the role of women in the game.

Hope Powell, manager of the England women's team, said that there are “several” women who have the coaching qualifications to take charge of a men's Premier League team.

“There are more and more females with the credentials. I have a pro licence and there are several other women around the world who have pro licences,” she told the BBC.

Powell, who will lead Great Britain's women's Olympic team at London 2012, added that she expected the first female appointed as a league boss to be hampered by an intense media scrutiny.

“The priority is about the football and the coaching. But the challenge would be, if a female was appointed at the highest level, how the media take that.

“If that female isn't successful then would it be 'see we told you - she couldn't do it'? Or if she was successful would she get too much media attention that would be too much to bear?"

In the programme, the Barnet and former Northern Ireland boss Lawrie Sanchez said he thought there would be a top-flight female manager within the next decade.

“I have a bet going with a mate that there will be a female Premier League manager within 10 years. Whatever is said at the top level, we're in an entertainment business. Someone, somewhere will appoint a female manager.

“Whether [she is appointed] because she's the best person out there or because of the commercial aspect that comes with it, the reason will be that it is the best situation for the club."

In the late 1980s, Channel 4 aired a drama called The Manageress starring Cherie Lunghi as a woman who becomes manager of a professional football team.

Will fact follow fiction? Somehow I doubt it, football and the people in it are too deeply entrenched in their prejudices.

I see that the chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, Clarke Carlisle, has said that a zero approach should be taken on players 'play-acting' to help cut it out.

“I believe if the FA, Premier League and referees took a zero tolerance line to diving and confrontation, you would see a month of madness. It would stop it because players would be missing two games, three games - then six, seven through suspension."

He added: “ If you just took the hard line, said we're not taking it any more, you might have a month of seven-a-side games but after that, because of the financial and professional ramifications, you would see a dramatic difference in players' behaviour.”

Sentiments I'm sure everyone would agree on but there is a simpler solution. If the owners of professional clubs said they would fine or suspend any of their players 'taking a dive' then the matter might be resolved overnight.

Fat chance.

The financial state of the game just seems to be lurching from one crisis to another.

One in five Football League clubs is in "poor financial health"  according to a survey by administrators Begbies Traynor who are overseeing the administration of League One side Port Vale.

"Many clubs are continuing to spend too much, principally on players' wages, as they always have done” said the company.

“While Premier League clubs are guaranteed huge television money every year and some have extremely wealthy backers, there are signs of genuine financial distress among a significant number of football league clubs,” said Gerald Krasner, a partner at Begbies Traynor.

And news last week that the total debts of Scottish giants Rangers could reach £134m. Of that, more than £93m is being claimed by HM Revenue and Customs.