English FA job link for former Town exec

FORMER Ipswich Town chief executive Howard Wells has emerged as a front-runner for one English football's most powerful positions.

Stuart Watson

FORMER Ipswich Town chief executive Howard Wells has emerged as a front-runner for one English football's most powerful positions.

Ever since Brian Barwick announced in August that he would be stepping down as the Football Association's chief executive by the end of the year, there has been much speculation as to who will be stepping into his shoes.

And Wells - the man who was at Ipswich during their promotion season of 1999/2000 - is once again being heavily tipped for the position.


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The 67-year-old became the first ever chief executive at the (Northern) Irish FA in January 2005 but is nearing the end of a year long extension to his contract which he signed in October last year.

Both the English and Irish FAs have refused to comment on the issue, however, Wells's impressive CV, combined with the fact he was shortlisted for the same position before Adam Crozier's appointment in 1999, has inevitably put him strongly in the frame.

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Ironically it means that Wells may be up against his former employer David Sheepshanks for the prestigious role. Wells left Ipswich at the of the 1999/2000 season.

Sheepshanks has so far remained tight-lipped as to whether he is interested in the position, however, it is believed he has a number of key supporters within the FA.

Having started his career as a goalkeeper for Wycombe Wanderers, Wells has gone on to become one of the most experienced and respected administrators in sport.

Following a spell coaching in the non-league game, Wells, who originates from Hertfordshire, headed out to Asia where he set up the Hong Kong Sports Institute which he subsequently led for 15 years.

Upon his return in 1996, Wells took on the chief executive role at the fledgling UK Sport. Two years later he took over the same position at Watford Football Club.

It was there where Wells began earning a reputation as 'the man with the Midas touch' as the Hornets recorded promotion into the Premiership thanks to a play-off win over Bolton.

The following season came his short stint at Ipswich, during which time they too were promoted to the top flight.

Since then Wells has chaired the Central Council of Physical Recreation before taking over his position at the Irish FA.

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