Plan to save Scottish game is progressing, claims McLeish

Former First Minister says 2009 review has had an impact despite 'fear factor' north of the border

Henry McLeish has hailed the progress already made as a result of his review into Scottish football but believes a "fear factor" still exists within the game north of the border.

The former First Minister made 103 recommendations as part of his two-part review, which was commissioned by the Scottish Football Association in May 2009. Those recommendations were unanimously approved at the SFA's AGM six months ago, with 27 having now been completed, 71 in progress and five not yet started.

Mark Wotte has been appointed as the first ever performance director and the SFA's disciplinary system has been overhauled, but discussions remain ongoing on the issue of league reconstruction.

McLeish said: "In a curious way, I'm not disappointed. My expectations were reasonably modest. Seven or eight of my recommendations were about the competitive nature of Scottish football, about league reconstruction, about integration, pyramid structure, relegation and promotion. I didn't expect that these changes would be approved or implemented in a short period of time. What I am buoyed by is that the SFA, SPL and SFL are working very closely together to move those recommendations forward.

"The reason I think there is hesitation in moving quickly forward is there is a fear factor around Scottish football. There is a fear of failure, there is a fear of finance or the lack of it, and we see a situation where the economic environment is poor and getting poorer. Against that background, the clubs are very reluctant to make big decisions that will not only influence their day-to-day activities but their life for the years ahead. In 1998-99 we changed, in 2001-02 we changed. We are talking about changes in 2011-12.

"What we do now has got to remain for a long period of time so we can bring security, stability and sustainability to the game. If we are going to make change we have to get it right and it has to be there for a long time so we can make it work."

On the whole, McLeish has been heartened by progress made so far in his bid to improve Scottish football. He said: "The wind of change is blowing through the football authorities and, in particular at this stage, the SFA. We have a situation where more progress has been made in the last six months than the last 60 years.

"That's a major step forward for a game that had major difficulties, faced major problems and is experiencing major challenges. We have made significant progress."

Rangers winger Sone Aluko is the latest player to experience the SFA's new disciplinary system, with his case of alleged simulation set to be heard by a fast track tribunal today.

McLeish believes the changes made, in order to make the process quicker and more transparent, have been successful. He said: "I think they have gone well. This was one of the real issues that emerged because we had difficulties with referees and with some of the football clubs questioning decisions.

"Apart from the changes that have been implemented and are ongoing, what I also hope is that we are building up more respect and more trust. There was a lack of trust, a lack of respect, a lack of common courtesy within the game. The disciplinary procedure will take time to settle in.

"There are still challenges that lie ahead but the main thing is a message to the clubs. The clubs have got to realise that you do need regulation, you do need discipline and everybody has got to be responsible.

"If that happens, I think the disciplinary procedures will be much easier to implement."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen