The Football Association was facing fresh turmoil following the Greg Clarke furore on Monday night after the woman in charge of searching for his successor announced she was also quitting.
Sources close to the governing body insisted Stacey Cartwright, the former Harvey Nichols chief executive, was standing down from the FA Board as well as the selection panel due to workload issues.
However, the announcement comes amid apparent consternation from Cartwright at the Board’s decision to grant "fellowship rights" to former FA Council member Brian Jones. Jones had been forced to resign from the Council last year after posting an Islamophobic message on social media. Cartwright was said by one insider to be among the most vociferous board members insisting that his position was untenable.
In a statement, the FA said Cartwright "will be stepping down from her role of Senior Independent Director on the FA Board in order to pursue other business interests". Cartwright added: "I have very much enjoyed my time on the FA Board and leave behind some great colleagues. I wish everyone well at The FA for the future and for the search for the new Chair."
Stacey Cartwright, a non-executive director formerly on the board at Liverpool, had been an early frontrunner for the FA chair job before she was appointed to head up a selection panel due to work through a shortlist in the coming weeks.
Her surprise exit comes after Mark Bullingham, the FA chief executive, spoke of a "really challenging 10 days for the organisation since Greg’s departure". He has promised an appointment will be from a diverse pool following Clarke’s career-ending comments to MPs on sexuality, race and women’s football.
Insisting Cartwright was leaving on good terms, the FA said it "would like to thank Stacey for her work and support during her time on the FA Board and wish her well in the future." "he process to appoint a new Senior Independent Director for the FA Board will begin in due course," the governing body added. "The FA will also appoint a new chair of the six-member selection panel to identify the next Chair of The FA."
Cartwright immediately steps down from chairing the recruitment panel, which remains supported by interim FA chairman Peter McCormick, Liam Rosenior and board members Rupinder Bains, Jack Pearce and Kate Tinsley.
Bullingham said last week that finding a successor for Clarke was "a critical appointment". Given Clarke had previously got into trouble over comments on race to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee in 2017, the 63-year-old’s comments about "coloured footballers", "Asian IT workers", schoolgirl footballers and the suggestion that being gay is a "life choice" appalled Bullingham.
The age limit rule of 65 for the FA Council would not be an obstacle for the next chairman, Bullingham suggested. Early frontrunner Sue Campbell, the FA’s director of women’s football who chaired UK Sport in the run-up to the London Olympics, is 72.
Jones, meanwhile, had resigned from the FA Council in Jan 2019 after reportedly sharing a Facebook post with the caption, "Pork fact 16: people who eat pork are less likely to blow themselves up."