The FA’s chief operating officer and former Accountancy Age
Personality of the Year was an exceptionally strong candidate.
Having delivered the new Wembley and run much of the show since chief
executive Brian Barwick was ‘subbed’ last year, Horne must have made the
decision to go with an outsider an extremely difficult one.
That outsider is Ian Watmore, a name that cropped on none of the speculative
shortlists drawn up by countless sports writers.
Most recently Watmore headed the prime minister’s delivery unit; before that
he was the government’s IT tsar. But it was in his prior role at Accenture that
I bumped into him.
Watmore, an Arsenal fan, was head of Andersen Consulting UK when it split
acrimoniously with the accountancy side of the business. So he knows about
infighting and that will serve him well as the FA with its unwieldy board
He’s no slouch in the presentation stakes either. I remember he even managed
to put a positive spin on Accenture’s national insurance recording system
contract one of the most controversial of any government partnership with the
And his spell at the heart of government will have given him political nous.
That will be an invaluable skill as he attempts to balance the competing demands
that the job brings.
One of his predecessors as FA chief executive, Mark Palios, once told me how
he would never forget his first day on the job.
He was greeted by thousands of letters, emails and messages from people
ranging from schoolchildren to pensioners offering him advice on what he should
be getting on with.
What other job brings that?
Damian Wild is editor-in-chief of Accountancy Age and
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