Profile: Boro boy does good - Adrian Bevington, head of media relations, the Football Association

Bursting with plasma screens and sharp-suited, fit young executives, the Football Association's Soho Square offices resemble those of an uber-cool PR agency.

Such surroundings are not typical of Adrian Bevington's native Cleveland, but he is comfortably at home in the glass-walled, fifth-floor office that has been his since last month's resignation of comms director Colin Gibson.

Gibson quit when the News of the World revealed his and former CEO Mark Palios's shambolic bid to provide details on England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson's affair with Faria Alam in return for keeping schtum on Palios's own fling with the same FA secretary. Bevington will not state his views on the episode on the record. He soberly acknowledges the damage done to the FA's reputation but, first and foremost, he has no desire to 'shaft' Gibson.

Paradoxically, though, the scandal - for all the negative headlines - has meant that this self-effacing 33-year-old has, after seven years at the FA, finally became the top PR man at an organisation he says he 'loves'.

He joined as a media relations officer after applying 'more in hope than expectation' - he sufficiently impressed the likes of FA stalwart and acting CEO David Davies in the interview.

Bevington began looking after the England under-21s and youth sides - which then included the likes of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Emile Heskey. Bevington cites an incident involving Heskey as an example of when his trust in journalism can be betrayed - the player was, he says, cruelly 'turned over' by a tabloid that took some comments in an interview out of context.

Episodes such as that, though, have informed Bevington's media-handling skills: 'You don't shout at the sports editor - that's not the way to handle it. You should rise above it. In this job, you'll probably see the journalist the next day - it's best to speak to them then and make them aware, calmly, that you're unhappy.'

Another self-generated PR crisis for the FA occurred earlier this year when Sun snappers caught Eriksson having talks with Chelsea Football Club.

Bevington headed back to the office late on the Friday night to try to 'raise' Sven and establish the FA's line. 'Pretty taxing' is how Bevington remembers that, and other, Sven-inspired moments of crisis management.

He describes Eriksson as 'one of the calmest men I have encountered in any walk of life'. When asked which aspect of the Swede's personality he feels is not well aired publicly, he praises Sven's 'dry sense of humour; go for dinner with him and he's humorous and warm'.

Bevington left school with minimum qualifications and began working for ICI's fortnightly in-house paper Chemicals & Polymers News.

After two years he 'drifted into' admin at the former Langbaurgh-on-Tees Borough Council (not a happy time), but 'desperate' to return to media work he bagged a job at Middlesbrough Football Club doing 'basic' PR and writing for club publications. Bevington himself played for Middlesbrough Schoolboys on the left wing and was a 'half-decent' runner; 'look at my physique now, though,' he jokes.

Bevington's former colleague at both ICI and Boro is the club's media and communications manager Dave Allan, who says Bevington's rise 'shows how far you can go if you have the ambition and drive'.

Bevington is perceived by the football hacks generally as reliable, hard-working and straightforward. Allan agrees: 'He's typical of us northerners: he tells the truth and he's got no airs and graces.'

Bevington says he is delighted his 'time has now come' to take the helm of the FA's comms function.

With the FA actively hunting a new CEO - and, some would argue, with Sven a couple of bad results away from the door - the body will continue to make headlines, front page and back.

Behind those headlines will be the dutiful 'football man' whose patience in waiting in the wings to claim the top PR role has been rewarded.


1995: Publications officer, Middlesbrough Football Club

1996: Senior publications officer, Middlesbrough Football Club

1997: Media relations officer, Football Association

2000: Senior media relations officer, Football Association

2003: Head of media relations, Football Association

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