But the England manager has warned against a “populist” appointment to succeed him as FA Chairman – claiming a lot of candidates don’t want to put in the “hard work” the role requires.
There are calls for English football’s governing body to make a diverse appointment in the wake of Clarke’s resignation for making a number offensive comments when addressing the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee on Tuesday.
But Southgate is adamant the job must go to the right person.
Speaking ahead of England’s friendly with Republic of Ireland on Thursday, Southgate made it clear Clarke had no future in the organisation after the sorry episode where he described black footballers as “coloured,” used racial stereotypes in reference to Asian and Afro-Caribbean staff at the FA and spoke of a life choice when discussing gay players.
“I think, as he said himself, the terminology he used in a number of areas was not acceptable,” said Southgate. “It doesn’t reflect the view of the FA, it doesn’t reflect what we as a team stand for. I don’t think he had any alternative but to take the decision he did to resign.
“I have to caveat that a little bit. I think [with] Greg, what’s a shame for him in particular, is he’s done a lot of work behind the scenes to support the diversity code to make inroads into relationships around in Europe. When we had incidents in Montenegro and Bulgaria he was at the forefront of supporting players and lobbying Uefa for change.
“Unfortunately, he’s going to be remembered for the comments he’s made. There is a balance to that because I don’t like to see individuals suffer as publicly as he has. But I repeat, what he said was unacceptable and there was no alternative but for him to go.”
Southgate also gave an insight into the extent to which Clarke’s comments shook the FA within.
He said: “People have a view of the FA and those of you who I know have a bit more insight into over 800 people that work at the FA, across that spectrum, there are people from numerous national backgrounds, from different sexuality, members of the lesbian and gay community.
“It’s as diverse an organisation as I’ve ever been a part of. Internally there was a lot of upset about what had been said. I think Greg recognised that amongst all the other challenges that what he said would have provided, the upset internally was massive.
“I know there’s a view of what the forward face of the FA is. But there are 800 people here. It’s a far broader organisation than that.”
The FA have promised Clarke’s successor will come from a “diverse talent pool.”
Southgate added: “I think we have a lot of black and female staff at the FA and they would all say that what they would want would be the right person for the role.
“That could be anybody from any background, that could be anybody of any gender. It has to be the right person. I could easily grandstand and say yes it should be somebody from one part of the community, but I don’t think that would be correct either.
“I think whoever comes in has to have an understanding of governance, has to have an understanding of operating at a high level of an important organisation.
“I must say that there are often a lot of names put forward and it is easy in the background to have opinions on things without having any responsibility. What I admire about someone like Paul Elliott is he’s committed himself to football administration.
“There are a lot of hours to that. There are a lot of meetings to attend that a lot of people don’t want to do. So, the reforms Paul has helped put in place over the last few months deserve a lot of commendation. I don’t know if Paul is the right person for the main role. That’s not a decision for me. But I’m just pointing out type of challenges that administrators tend to have, the type of qualities they have to have.
“It isn’t for everybody and a lot of people that are proposed, the populist views, don’t really want to put the hours in and don’t really want to put the hard yards in or have that responsibility.
“It’s an enormous responsibility and it will lead to a lot of criticism a lot of the time, so it’s got to be a very particular type of person.
“I’m highlighting Paul because I think I greatly respect what he’s done within our organisation, but, I repeat, I don’t know if being the chairman would be the right position for him.
“But I think to be on the board would be a positive move for sure.”
Former FA Chairmen Greg Dyke and David Bernstein have both had their say in the wake of Clarke’s resignation, but Southgate had a message for them too.
He added: “I think there have been messages all summer from society about educating ourselves. Many of us have done that and have learned a lot over the last six months.
“There’s a bigger message. As an organisation we have to change. We can’t keep talking about it and not enforcing it.
“It disappoints me a bit that former chairmen speak, because they’ve had the opportunity to do that. People need to be careful in those comments.
“It’s clear we’re talking about a lot of change in society and football has to be at the forefront of that. We have an opportunity to make a difference.
“When I had the chance to be involved in the Diversity Code this summer my biggest point was that I’ve sat on lots of panels and heard lots of talking, but we need change. Change needs to happen.”