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The SFA should sacrifice their blazers

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Jim Spence | 16:15 UK time, Friday, 20 November 2009

The Scottish Football Association needs a revolution. It is time for an outbreak of democracy to ensure that the president and the board are voted into office by fans and clubs alike, instead of time-serving their way through to positions of ultimate power.

Those standing for office should have to provide CVs and a business plan before they seek to run our game. If you seek high office, you should be prepared to put on record what experience and track record you have to do the job.

And if you have none, you shouldn't be there.

You should also have to put up for public consumption your proposals for your time in office, outlining your plans for improving and bettering the game, both in terms of the football and financially.

SFA chief executive Gordon Smith and president George PeatIn modern life we are all accountable, have targets to meet and have to undergo appraisals. Why should the SFA board be any different?

As long as a penny of public money goes towards youth development or any other area run by the Hampden hierarchy, then there should be a transparent and open audit process.

The recent list of SFA council members' expenses shows that some members received £4.60 pence per mile to travel to Hampden on SFA business - £4.60 per mile for a five-mile journey? Nice work if you can get it.

How does that relate to the rest of the working world? How many of us pick up £23 for a five-mile trip to the office or building site?

After the "Boozegate" scandal, a vote of confidence for manager George Burley two months ago suddenly overturned, and a general lack of transparency, many fans are now asking whether the SFA is fit for purpose.

The old ways of doing things will no longer do. We need clear and accountable structures in line with modern business practices, and we need to know just who is in control.

Is it the president George Peat? The chief executive Gordon Smith? No-one really knows because the SFA is an unfathomable organisation.

Our national team's reputation sinks lower by the week and the standing of our game is in danger of becoming a by-word for complacency and neglect.

We have to get a new manager in to turn round our fortunes, but first we have to sort out the men who have got our national game into this mess.

In the French Revolution the aristocracy lost their power and their heads: the SFA too needs a revolution.

They can keep their heads but they'll have to sacrifice their blazers.


  • Comment number 1.


    I am in total agreement with a BBC pundit/blogger!

    We need to sweep all hints of blaserdom away
    We need for junior football to be incorporated and brought under the SFA
    We need a larger and more competitive SPL
    We need SPL gate money to get split 50-50
    We need a uniform and fixed entry price for ALL SPL grounds
    We need a regional pyramid system of lower league clubs and perhaps some clubs amalgamating to make them more competitive....

    but we need the powers that... ahem "run" the game to be transparent and above all competent and answerable.

  • Comment number 2.

    McLeish 'baffled' by ban U-turn

    I agree with Alex McLeish that it’s ridiculous to consider the reinstatement of the booze gate duo just because of a change in management.
    Those two idiots didn’t let down the manger, they let down the whole Scottish nation and any reinstatement would send a clear sign to our footballers that IT IS OK to booze before the game and perform like moronic neds while on the bench.
    As for Ally McCoists comments – Ally, do not confuse self imposed exile with the SFA (not the managers) ban handed out by the back tracking, double talking Gordon Smith.
    Boyd was not involved in the bench antics and it’s daft for Ally to put Boyd’s name in the frame as a Straw Man.
    I think all Scots fans would welcome Boyd back, should the new manager pick him.
    But the finger flicking dynamic duo must pay the penalty while ensuring discipline is restored to the ranks of Scottish football.

  • Comment number 3.

    Wise words Jim .. and Sakebhoy .. spot on on all counts!

    Now .. how do we make this happen???

  • Comment number 4.


    I am largely in agreement with your views.


    "Now .. how do we make this happen???"

    With extreme difficulty, I suspect! The plums in blazer will cling on like parasitic lichen on a granite block! They have neither the intelligence, intellect or commitment to seek progressive change. They are purely motivated by their fown self-interest.

  • Comment number 5.

    The thing is if this was attempted then FIFA would ban Scotland for political interference. In such the FA around the world can become miniature fiefdoms which are pasted from one generation of blazers to another one. And if your very good at this you could even get job at FIFA or UEFA and expand your empire out to more exotic ways of influence and compensation.

  • Comment number 6.

    Then you bring them down the hard way. Have the Tartan Army tell everyone not to attend anymore Scotland games. Tell the now - this means that for teh next 4 months, they are bricking it before the friendly againts the Czech Republic in March.
    Refuse to go to any of the League Cup, or the Scottish Cup games.
    Believe me, when the money isn't coming in, the SFA will fold !!!

    You would have a new regime which will have Scotlands interest at heart, in place, and in time for the new Euro Qualifications in September.

    And because its not political, FIFA won't do or say a thing. How can they when it's the fans that have brought the change within the SFA. The SFA will still be the SFA...only this time, it will be run by elected footballing men with help from business men who have an idea of marketing football, instead of those who run little minor teams, yet sit at the top table.
    I would even go to say that those individuals in power should be elected every 4 years, and with a number votes also from selected members of the Tartan Army (thus, it wouldn't be dominated by say the Old Firm)

  • Comment number 7.

    Have to agree with blog and especially sickbuoy's point about club amalgamation. According to all european statistics we are the biggest live footballing supporters per capita. Unfortunately we are not using this power to its best advantage. We cannot support over 40 league teams with our population and make an impact. Not even Italy or Spain can do this. Teams will go bust each year and many will lose jobs whilst club assets go to the banks. Clubs should act now and amalgamate into stronger teams with less costs and bigger income per match and then there is a chance for some decent competition. Some may lose their jobs, but the best will keep theirs and ground sales will provide development money. When Inverness Cally and Thistle combined the fans said it wouldn't work but then look how they made progress, climbing 4 divisions in 5 years. Imagine what some other combinations could produce in long term fan base.

  • Comment number 8.

    Great blog as usual Jim. Unusually vociferous for you compared to your normal sensible air of calm, but definitely needed and completely warranted.

    The SFA is a nonsense and has been for as long as I can remember, but it kinda gets forgotten about until they do something stupid or act oddly. As you say there should be accountability and transparency, as any decision they make should be for the better of the Scottish game and nothing else.

  • Comment number 9.

    Absolutely agree yet again Jim! In the age of freedom of information we are entitled to transparency and accountability in public office at the absolute minimum. It should be made clear to all fans exactly what the blazers are up to each year. Each one should have to be re-elected by the fans every 4 years - a suitable period that gives them 2 chances at qualification for major tournaments (for the full national teams as well as U21, etc.), as good a measure of success as any.

    To put the mileage expenses into context: the law allows us mere mortals to claim at a rate of 40p mile for the first 10,000 miles driven each year, then 25p per mile thereafter. Quite how the SFA justify awarding themselves £4.60 per mile, or eleven and a half times the normal rate, I've no idea. I'd love to hear Gordon Smith's answer to that one! Ask him for us Jim, and let's hear his answer here!

  • Comment number 10.

    shades846 - good point, but only as long as the outside pressure is 'political'. Your elected representatives are not allowed to get involved.

    Do the FAI have the same problem or is that just Psycho Keane's rantings? Methinks he might be right for once.

    How much does a taxi cost? £4.60 per mile?

  • Comment number 11.

    My frustration at the monopoly control that the associations have over football has been increasing for some time. It's about time fans were represented at FA"s. One million paying customers every week is one hell of a pressure group. How about some sort of fans union that would police FIFA and the FA's? An organised football supporters union would have a powerful voice in the game and would serve to counter the entirely commercial interests of the clubs and FA's. Most fan's just love the game for what it is not the money and the closed shop politics. Fan ownership should be compulsory then the associations could be brought to book.

  • Comment number 12.

    Observing the decline of the Scotland Football Team over several years has been somewhat painful.However to understand this you must examine the true reasons.Back in the seventies when I first started watching Scotland it was clear players had a strong sense of pride and honour in playing for there country.In those days many of our best players played in england.Into the 80's and 90's and suddenly most of Scotland's players are supplied by the Old Firm.This directly lead to the downfall in Scotland's Team.How you ask? Simple really the Old Firm began to resent their committment to the Scotland cause and so began a process of instilling in certain players there Club came before there Country. This thought process rapidly spread throughout the Scotland setup and players started to question the importance of playing for there counrty.Some chose to retire from internationals and others decided to show there contempt publicly "Ian Ferguson "Barry Ferguson etc. The fact that some of these palyers may find themselves back in a Scotland jersey is frankly embarrasing.The shame and humiliation they brought on our country is in my mind unforgivable. Watching the Scotland Rugby Team yesterday I could only watch in awe as the committment and pride was truly immense.When was the last time a Scotland Football team showed this kind of passion? Unless we work on changing the mindset of today's Scotland players we can forget qualifying for any future tournaments.

  • Comment number 13.

    Check out George Peat's expression in that photo!

    It's like he's thinking "That journalist over there KNOWS I'm a clueless incompetent. But I'm no' done yet. I'll outmanoeuvre them all politically and retain my position of power despite my absolute ignorance of all the major issues."

    Why are these clueless clowns running Scottish football???

  • Comment number 14.

    "Simple really the Old Firm began to resent their committment to the Scotland cause and so began a process of instilling in certain players there Club came before there Country."


    You make an interesting point, MoraytheMighty. But I would urge you to bite the bullet and speak the whole truth. Yes, there has been a shameful catalogue of players who - metaphorically or actually - have given the V-sign to their country.

    Ian Ferguson, Duncan Ferguson, Lee McCulloch, Kris Boyd, Barry Ferguson, Allan McGregor.

    You refer to them as "Old Firm" players. Ermmm... yessss... technically.

    But we could be slightly more specific - and honest - than that. Don't you think?

  • Comment number 15.

    As already said

    1. Stop going to Scottish Cup matches
    2. Stop going to international matches

    they'll soon modernise ! Fans don't realise the power they have.

  • Comment number 16.

    "Now .. how do we make this happen???"


    everything is controlled by money. those at the bottom of the scottish pyramid borrow like theres no tomorrow and moan to those at the top when they run out of cash. the ones in charge, like the rest of those in power, take money for their own greed.

    the only real solutions? spending caps on the SFA board and for the clubs in it. english league 2 have spending caps and the clubs that are in debt while in that league werent in that same league when the debt started

  • Comment number 17.

    I totally agree Jim - the men's internet portal

  • Comment number 18.

    why not keep a poor FA for a team with little to offer. club football in scotland is even worse then the national team. let them enter UFC as a nation and balls to the footbal.

  • Comment number 19.

    Excellent article, straight to the point, pulling no punches. Jim Spence is one of the best BBC bloggers here at the minute.

    Best of luck, Scottish football.

  • Comment number 20.

    As a UK resident not of Scottish descent, I'd be interested to know what Mr Spence thinks a successful 'manifesto' might look like.

    1. Grass roots proposals?
    2. Funding for that?
    3. Funding of international team?
    4. Evolution, if any, of Scottish League system?

    It's not an easy call. 'Interesting times' is what some might call it.

    There's likely to be a bit of 'damned if you do and damned if you don't', as I don't think anyone will come up with a vision that all will agree with.

    But you're right. Something needs to change.

    Anyone taken SAF for a wee dram to ask him what gives? He's usually quite pragmatic and clear-sighted about these things.....

  • Comment number 21.

    perhaps if the Scottish FA were to treat people correctly, then they would have a long and rich history of competing in major tournaments. They alienated arguably their greates striker of the last 10-15 years in Duncan Ferguson, a player who let loose on a major tournament would be the kind of player capable of carrying the rest through. a sheer warrior of a human, a human horse. They also failed to support Gary McAllister through the abuse he received from his home fans and lost him prematurely. A lot of fine players were scandalouysly under capped, like John Collins and Colin Hendry amongst alan mclaren and others. Now look, i'm no genius but if the FA appointed a players manager then perhaps this would look different, go for a people person, a motivator...a strachan.

  • Comment number 22.

    Your article calls for change. It echoes the views expressed by everyone I speak to who has even a passing interest in the game and the comments on you blog clearly indicate the strength of feeling on this issue.

    Whilst I don’t want to defend the SFA and it’s leadership, I can empathise with their situation and wonder if there exists within that organisation the stomach for change.

    Calling for change is easy. Managing change is not.

    If it was easy, anyone could do it.

    In the face of so much hostility toward their leadership, Gordon Smith and George Peat may have backed themselves and Scottish Football into a corner and lack the necessary management skills necessary to get out.

    Learning to manage change does not come easy to senior managers as I can testify with personal experience but I feel that suggestions put forth, whether on blogs such as this, in the press or directly to the SFA, need to provide answers as well as criticism, if they are to merit the reflection of the SFA.

    This is why I have personally written directly to the SFA on the subject of Change and how it can be managed.

    Change is not simply ideas that are different, new, better or whatever. It is the hardest of all management challenges. It is an ongoing process however, I have to agree that at the SFA it is nowhere near begun.

    Managers have a simple choice – either be part of the change or be the victim of change.

    Personally I don’t think the SFA is capable of change and maybe that is the stark truth that has to get through to them.

  • Comment number 23.

    I could not agree more with you JS. Peat and Smith are a sad joke on Scottish Football. Things have got to change and soon because people are being turned off the game beacause of the following:
    Poor Product
    Over Priced
    Cheating players

    I mean lets look at a few examples, Dundee Utd wanting to charge again for a product that fans have already paid for is a disgrace. Over priced merchandice, over priced food and drinks at games. Players cheating like we saw in the Ireland/France game last week etc etc. Don't the powers that so called be actually see that they kill off a little more of the game each week for people like myself who can always find other things to spend our money on, and are some weeks now.
    The SPL stiffles competition, the BBC spend very little on the SFL while spending a fortune on the SPL, EPL and Formula One. A luke warm coffee costs £1.60 at the Alba Cup Final, a pie near £2 at Dens. All of this turns people away. On top of that we have people like Smith and Peat who love the positions they hold but in reality offer little or nothing to the debate and are slowly preciding over the death of the game in this country.
    Change will no doubt come but too late, the fans will continue to stop going to games, FIFA will continue to be run like the SFA on a larger scale and people like me will find other things to do with our time and our money.
    On the plus side, I am a dee, we won the Cup, the Calley fans were great as well as the DFC fans. The match programme was worth every penny, the match was great in the end, the food was still crap and over priced. maybe there is hope, but it's not coming from those who run the game but from the ones I was sitting next to yesterday, they make it worth while.

  • Comment number 24.

    Yet another wonderful blog Jim. Let's hope Henry McLeish is also on the ball and is listening to stakeholder's views.

    We must demand CHANGE and it starts at door of SFA with Peat and Smith. No decent manager will ever take the Scotland job while they are in charge. Their blazers must be the first to go and people power focused by media support will facilitate this. I've seen plenty of dictators come and go during my lifetime and that's just at Dense Park!

    Keep up the good work and remember we shall overcome ...

  • Comment number 25.

    Henry 'the opportunist' McLeish will rapidly become one of the blazers! Be like another wee goldmine for him! Be better off with Alex McLeish - and he could manage Scotland at the same time!

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    I agree with all Jim Spence has said. Poor George Burely has been left to carry the can when there are so many more to blame. I think it is laughable when Gordon Smith stands up and says that Scottish football cannot survive without the sattelite TV money to develop players. It would appear to me that this money is used to feather the beds of the senior officials rather than develop football. Records would indicate that our performances been on the slide ever since these huge sums have become available rather rhan the opposite......

  • Comment number 28.

    i know a bit about how english football is organised, i know a lot less about how scottish football is organised, and i know nothing about scandinavian countries like denmark.

    so this may be a load of rubbish but it seems like english club football is run really well at every level, all the way down to the bottom, and scotlands isnt. however england has 70 million people compared to scotlands 5, has the PL's reputation, has much more money and is not geographically isolated in the way we are.

    denmark, norway etc are much mroe similar to scotland in terms of population, economy (although i suspect scotland are a bit behind on that front, could be wrong but), and geography. yet these countries' national teams, especially denmark, are miles ahead of scotland, and now that the old firm are no longer what they once were and aberdeen are light years from a european trophy scandinavian club football is probably in a state equal to or better than ours.

    whatever they are doing would it not be worth analysing for a possible way of running the game over here?

  • Comment number 29.


    What you say makes sense. Maybe we should be looking at the Scandinavian model. Trouble is, I can't see that happening due to the intransigence of the 'blazer' who seem to have this conceit that all is well and that we invented football!


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