THE South African Football Association (Safa) has a new man at the helm after the organisation’s chief operations officer, Dennis Mumble, took over as acting CEO on Wednesday.

Mumble replaced Robin Petersen, who has been given the task of establishing and heading the Safa Development Agency as CEO.

While the changes will formally come into effect on January 1, Safa president Kirsten Nematandani said on Wednesday it was felt necessary to speedily define the roles of the two CEOs as SA was set to host the African Nations Cup next month.

Bafana’s preparations for the continental showpiece would have been affected if decisive action had not been taken.

Nematandani said Petersen took a gamble by agreeing to initiate the huge undertaking aimed at turning around the football governing body and implementing Safa’s "technical master plan".

It will cost R250m a year to implement the ambitious project and it is expected to run for 10 years. Development will be central to the project and Nematandani admitted that this had been one of Safa’s biggest shortcomings during his watch as president.

"This is our third year in office and 2013 will be the end of our term," Nematandani said. "Four years down the line and we were just talking, and nothing really happened," he said.

"Everybody says the problem with South African football is a lack of development. No matter how much we can argue, if this isn’t happening we will still be saying we are going to put our resources into development. But this time we have a driver, someone who is going to champion this and the CEO (Petersen) is going to do just that."

The trustees of the Development Agency would be independent and Nematandani said the structure would not be affected by the internal politics in Safa.

"Elections and changes of leadership will not affect the long-term plans. I am 100% sure that the agency will not be affected by whatever happens at Safa."

Petersen has already begun the groundwork and he said the development project would be fast-tracked if the way Safa was funded was changed.

Development often relied on money left over from sponsorship funding from Safa’s commercial properties (Bafana Bafana, Banyana Banyana and other national soccer teams) and TV.

"And it does not go very far, and development always gets shortchanged because the funding is not there," Petersen said.

"So what we are saying is that instead of using that commercial model for funding development, let us use the corporate social investment model instead," he said.

" We have asked a group of quite significant business leaders who include Bobby Godsell (Business Leadership South Africa), Sandile Zungu (Black Business Council), Vincent Maphai (SAB), Nolitha Fakude (Sasol), Vusi Khanyile (Thebe) and a number of others … to come on board as patrons of this structure to help mobilise funding from the corporate sector," he said.

Mumble said while Safa had faced many challenges over the years, he was confident that Petersen was the best person to spearhead the revival of South African football.

"It is now my challenge to (put the) strategy into successful implementation and I am confident that the leadership team can do that," Mumble said.

"But first we need to support the South African local organising committee in hosting the 2013 African Nations Cup," he said.