English FA to outsource hire for Greg Clarke successor - sources

The English Football Association are expected to outsource their recruitment of Greg Clarke's successor as chairperson and will finalise their hiring process in the coming days with the aim of making a relatively quick appointment, sources have told ESPN.

Clarke's sudden resignation on Tuesday evening following his use of a racist term when giving evidence to a Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee earlier in the day has left the English football's governing body without a figurehead at a key time.

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Clarke also stood down as FIFA's vice-president on Thursday after a phone call with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin. Originally, Clarke had said he would remain in the role until March 2021 at the request of Ceferin.

The 63-year-old referred to "coloured footballers," stereotyped south Asians and Afro-Carribean people as possessing "different career interests" and described homosexuality as a "life choice" during a hearing designed to examine why the game had collectively failed to agree a financial rescue package for the lower leagues.

A statement from FA chief-executive Mark Bullingham released on Wednesday read: "We are committed to playing a lead role in actively enhancing equality and diversity across English football, whilst steadfastly challenging and tackling all forms of discrimination."

Although Peter McCormick has been named as interim chairperson, the Harrogate lawyer is not considered a candidate for the role on a permanent basis and the FA are keen to make an appointment that will be able to robustly represent the organisation in key discussions around the restructuring of English football in the short and long term.

Sources have told ESPN that the FA are in the midst of finalising the best process to identify the best candidates while following their own code of conduct recommendations. There is a sense of urgency around making an appointment, according to ESPN sources, but also a recognition the process must not be rushed.

The FA also outsourced the recruitment process for Martin Glenn's replacement as chief executive, firstly using head-hunter agency Odgers before engaging Spencer Stuart -- only to later decide to promote internal candidate Bullingham at the end of the 2018-19 season.

Bullingham was expected to make a statement on Clarke's departure later on Wednesday afternoon and the FA are set to clarify their hiring procedures in another public statement once finalised.

No shortlist has yet been drawn up but several high-profile figures are believed to be interested in the position including Baroness Sue Campbell, the director of women's football at the FA, and the organisation's Inclusion Advisory Board chairman Paul Elliott.

Elliott is also thought to be a leading contender to replace Clarke as England's vice-president representative at FIFA.