Princess Haya could remain “caretaker” president of the FEI for a further four months in an astonishing twist in the campaign to elect her successor.

The proposal is made by FEI secretary general Ingmar de Vos in a bid to end the dispute over whether he can remain in his current, salaried post while also serving as FEI president if elected during the FEI general assembly in Baku on December.

Legal advice initially indicated the dual role was permissible.

But then Pierre Genecand — one of five rival presidential candidates — commissioned an alternative opinion.

De Vos revealed that even his own supporters shared these concerns in an email to all 132 FEI member federations.

He now suggests that if elected, he will resign as secretary general and appoint an interim; ask Princess Haya to consider a handover period; and call an extraordinary general assembly (EGA) during the FEI sports forum next April to vote for a change of statute allowing future presidents to be paid.

Asked what would happen if the EGA then rejected the concept, de Vos said: “I have been clear about my intentions and, were I elected, I would be disappointed if the EGA were to reject the proposal as it is part of my candidacy.

“The FEI is now a professional organisation that needs professionalism at all levels. Many international federations and organisations now have presidents that receive remuneration. There is nothing unusual about this. It is, in my view, not a good practice that the presidency would only be limited to volunteers that can afford it.

“If the EGA were to reject, I would of course respect this and would continue as a volunteer [president], though in that case I would probably also have other occupations not related to the FEI.”

Mr de Vos apologised that the dispute has “become a distraction from the important issue of choosing a suitable president.”

The other candidates are Ulf Helgstrand (Denmark), John McEwen (Britain), Pierre Durand (France) and Javier Revuelta del Peral (Spain).

This news story was first published in Horse & Hound magazine (6 October 2014).