The Football Association says it will take no further action against the chairman of its referees panel once the independent inquiry is complete, writes Sam Cunningham
The FA hired Leigh Barnett, of law firm Parker Bullen LLP, to launch an investigation into Elleray in December after a series of exclusive stories I reveals a number of allegations against him.
The independent investigation into the conduct of David Elleray, one of world football’s most powerful officials, ended with the Football Association taking no further action against him but refusing to release the final report.
While no action will be taken against Elleray, he will step down from his roles at the FA this month, including as Chair of the Referees Committee and two decades as a member of the FA Council, and the Barnett report makes “several recommendations” to improve the culture of the FA refereeing in England and eliminate the embarrassing lack of professional ethnic minority officials in English football.
There are 40 professional referees in the pool this season to officiate games in the Premier League, Championship, League One and League Two and all are white.
In December, the FA received correspondence from Martin Cassidy, chief executive of the charity Ref Support UK, including further but unsubstantiated allegations about Elleray from former staff. FA chief Mark Bullingham responded by suggesting the governing body had hired a law firm to investigate.
When approaching I On Tuesday, Cassidy, a former FA refereeing staffer who was involved in Barnett’s investigation, said he “couldn’t speak about the specifics of the findings”, but added: “We understand that there are big positive changes and a culture reboot.” within FA refereeing at grass roots and professional level.
“We look forward to seeing the proposals and being involved in the process.
“We really appreciate that FA boss Mark Bullingham has responded to our correspondence leading up to this inquiry and look forward to working with the FA in the future.”
Although the FA insisted that a 2014 internal inquiry into racism allegations against Elleray von Barnett would not be re-examined, the FA has revealed that “Leigh Barnett’s inquiry concluded that the 2014 inquiry was consistent with relevant FA policy “.
A whistleblower claimed that the FA’s 2014 investigation into a racism complaint amounted to a cover-up. The FA firmly denied the claim.
The FA revealed the outcome of Barnett’s report on their own website, writing: “As football emerges from the pandemic and in particular the return to face-to-face meetings, David Elleray, Chairman of the FA Referees Committee, who is now based in South Africa, has decided to to step down from his various FA roles at the end of the 2021/22 season after 20 years on the FA Council.
“Out of respect for the independent investigation into the allegations against him and the FA, David has postponed this resignation announcement pending the completion of the investigation. The investigation is now closed and the FA will take no action against David.
“On 14 December 2021, Leigh Barnett, Consultant Solicitor Parker Bullen LLP, was ordered by the FA to conduct an independent inquiry into allegations relating to the FA’s investigation into an incident in 2014 and a number of new allegations relating to David Elleray to investigate.
“The purpose of the investigation was to determine whether any of the allegations made were supported by evidence and, if so, whether they constituted wrongdoing warranting further action.
“Leigh Barnett’s investigation concluded that the 2014 investigation was compliant with relevant FA policy and that there was insufficient evidence to support the specific allegations against David Elleray, so no further action is being taken. Given the confidential nature of the investigation, it would not be appropriate to give further details.
“The report contains a number of recommendations that will feed into the work already underway to develop the FA’s next three-year refereeing strategy, to be launched next season.
“The strategy, which is currently in the consultation phase with a wide range of stakeholders, aims to develop a clear plan to improve the refereeing environment and culture, create better opportunities for underrepresented groups and raise standards from grassroots to grassroots level improve Elite. ”