Profile: Footballer-turned-accountant Mark Palios

His experience in both fields may serve him well in his next job, as he has been tipped to be the new chief executive of the Football Association. Some leading figures in the game have said they are relieved to see someone with a football background mooted for a senior post in the FA.

Although he faces stiff competition from four other candidates, which include former FIFA general secretary Michel Zen Ruffinen and FA commercial director Paul Bates, observers feel the smart money is on Palios.

And sources inside the FA have said that he has strong backing. One source said: ‘Palios is seen as a good grass roots appointment. Palios would not be an image man or a spin-doctor. He would bring financial experience and the respect of the city.’

As a restructuring expert, Palios understands the financial aspects of running a business and has experience of getting a troubled business out of the red. And as a football player, he has a deeper insight than most into the problems facing football.

Maybe, with his experience of both areas, he will find a solution to the thorny ‘super creditor’ rule where football players – a club’s biggest expense – have their income guaranteed in case of restructuring. This is an issue that has instigated many conflicts between clubs and their financial advisers.

But if he does get the job, Palios will have his hands full trying to bring the FA out of the financial black hole it has jumped into. The new Wembley Stadium – the FA’s biggest expense – is currently expected to cost £757m. Besides that, other expenses include the Football Foundation and a new Football Centre in Burton-on-Trent.

Originally from Birkenhead, Palios joined Tranmere Rovers at the age of 16. During the 1970s and early 1980s, he was one of the club’s best players, playing in mid-field and scoring 33 goals. He was also Tranmere’s representative at the Professional Footballers’ Association.

At the same time, Palios was training to be an accountant with Coopers & Lybrand Deloitte in Liverpool. The club’s then manager recalled that he was always willing to give financial advice. ‘There would sometimes be a queue waiting to talk to him on the team coach.’

Palios joined PwC in 1989 as a partner from Ernst & Young. He worked his way through the ranks and is currently a business regeneration leader, which many believe is exactly what the FA needs at the moment. Currently, Palios is responsible for the development of PwC’s approach in the turnaround area.

His role is mostly concentrated in working with large companies facing difficulties involving cross border operations and complex funding profiles.

He focuses on rebuilding shareholder value and has a ‘hands-on’ approach to his work.

This approach will serve him well if he gets the job that combines two of his favourite skills, football and finance.

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