By PETER ANTHONY
David Moffett, chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union and former head of the NZRFU, has turned down the chance to fill the hole left by Adam Crozier at the English Football Association.
His rejection of the FA, which is sure to cause some red faces at soccer headquarters as the search for a chief executive intensifies, came when the renowned troubleshooter was approached last week.
"I was minding my own business," 56-year-old Moffett said. "I had a call from some headhunters who asked me if I would be interested in being chief executive for the English FA. I did decline, although I have to admit that the increase in salary was very tempting."
The FA will now have to look elsewhere for someone to take the helm off the joint acting chief executives, David Davies and Nick Coward, who have been in control since Crozier resigned last October.
If it is to lure a suitable candidate it might have to raise the salary, as the figure suggested to Moffett - £300,000 ($853,000) - is on the low side when you consider that Gordon Taylor, the chief executive of the players' union the PFA, is said to be on twice this amount.
Nevertheless, it would still have represented a rise of £100,000 ($284,500) a year if Moffett had taken what the FA has touted as the biggest job in British sport.
"I was very flattered," he said, "but my job is here and I will stay doing the best I can for Welsh rugby."
It is easy to see why the FA was interested in Moffett. The naturalised Australian, who was born in Yorkshire, has an impressive CV with the New Zealand RFU, Australian Rugby League and Sport England. He did leave the latter acrimoniously last year, however, complaining of his hands being tied "by too many committees run by too many blazers", a problem that Crozier himself admitted encountering at soccer headquarters.
The rifts created by a turbulent 10 months at Sport England are only now being healed with Moffett due to have lunch with Richard Caborn, the Minister for Sport, this week.
Moffett's decision is a relief to Wales, which would have been left with the amateur general committee as negotiators in the discussions on a new professional structure which reach a critical stage this week.
By PETER ANTHONY