Belfast Telegraph

Rio Ferdinand high on FA's list to succeed Jim Boyce

By Stuart McKinley

Jim Boyce's position as Fifa vice-president could be taken by a former England captain who is still playing in the Premier League when he stands down from the post next year.

Rio Ferdinand has emerged as a surprise name under consideration by the English FA as their candidate for the high-profile job, which will become vacant next summer.

And if the Queens Park Rangers defender isn't selected by the FA, then two other former England internationals are in the frame to succeed ex-Irish FA President Boyce.

An FA source has revealed that former Liverpool goalkeeper David James and ex-Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers full-back Graeme Le Saux are also on the list of potential contenders that has been drawn up, as is Paul Elliott, who enjoyed spells at Celtic and Chelsea during his playing days.

English football's governing body has moved away from selecting a candidate from within their own committee structure after vice-chairman David Gill, the Manchester United director, ruled himself out.

It is thought that they are hoping the selection of a high-profile player or former player will help them win the vote when the British Fifa vice-president's position goes before Uefa next spring.

Whoever is chosen will stand for election against opponents being put forward by Scotland and Wales for the role, which is shared between the four home nations.

It is expected that Scottish FA president Campbell Ogilivie and Welsh FA president Trefor Lloyd Hughes will be the chosen candidates from their countries. Uefa member countries will then vote to decide who will replace Boyce, who has already confirmed that he will not be standing for a second term after his first ends in June.

He has been in the position since 2011 and is the first Ulsterman to serve as Fifa vice-president since the late Harry Cavan, who held the role from 1980 to 1990.

If ex-England and Manchester United defender Ferdinand is to show any interest in the role he would have to be sure he could fit the duties around his playing schedule.

Le Saux already has an FA role sitting on its inclusion advisory board, as does Elliott. Both men also have existing links with Uefa.

Former England goalkeeper James is currently player-manager of the Kerala Blasters side in the Indian Super League and has been a regular pundit on television.

Should the English FA's move to select a well-known player or ex-player result in them being successful in the vote, it could cause a rift between the UK nations.

The job was previously allocated on a rotational basis and the Welsh FA believe that it is their turn to have a person in the position, never having had it before in nearly 70 years since it was established.

The Welsh had been under the impression there was a gentleman's agreement to let them have the post for the next four years, but FA insiders say any rotation deal was scrapped when Fifa reforms meant the vice-presidency had to be voted on by all Uefa member nations rather than just the four home associations.

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