New Football Lads Alliance leader exposed as founder John Meighan's partner.

The news that Football Lads Alliance (FLA) founder John Meighan had stepped down as leader caused immediate ructions.

I reported last week how far-right charity cheat Pam Brannigan had taken an admin role with the hooligan group – and the immediate friction that caused.

Now there’s new revelations which raise questions about whether Meighan really has walked away from the merchandise-heavy organisation.

One Saturday there was a tussle emerged over the group’s name and that of its forthcoming Manchester protest. Both changed.

The FLA is now rebranded as Football Firms, a rebrand which, much like the arrival of new season kits, presumably paves the way for a whole load more fresh merchandise.

The Manchester gathering has gone from being the FLA ‘Tribute March’ to the FLA ‘Manchester March of Respect.’

Before going on, let’s be clear this event is showing zero respect to the city and the families of the victims whose lives were lost in Arena atrocity. Mancunians have already demonstrated perfectly how to pull together as a city and demonstrate both sympathy and support in the wake of terrorism.

New fixture

Anyway, whatever went on behind the scenes on Saturday, the smart betting is on Brannigan having been involved.

She’s certainly Facebook pals with the two figures to emerge from behind the rebrands. One is Tutbury Spurs fan Keith Dean.

The other is more interesting.

Sarah Rutland John MeighanThe other is Bethnal Green’s Sarah Rutland who is of a Leyton Orient persuasion. She’s also a fan of one John Meighan, what with him being her partner.

That’s the happy couple pictured.

Now I’m sure it’s purely concidental that Rutland is in a relationship with the founder of the FLA and has emerged as a key figure in the all-new-formula Football Firms.

She’s an independent woman so I would not suggest that the closeness of her relationship to Meighan is in any way pertinent.

Other, lesser people might. But I’m happy to go along with the idea that Meighan now has nothing to do with running the FLA/Football Firms.

After all, he said last week he wanted to devote more time to his family. That’s definitely what he’ll be doing. Not managing the merchandise machine that was the FLA.

If you were really cynical – which naturally I am not – you might ponder his role as managing director of something called Football Lads Alliance Ltd. No doubt the paperwork is in the post to Companies House.