Scottish FA: What issues will new chief executive face?

Hibernian chief executive Leeann Dempster
Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster has plenty of backers as a contender to succeed Stewart Regan

Since the departure of Gordon Strachan and the very public knock-back from Michael O'Neill, speculation over the identity of the next Scotland manager has dominated the headlines.

But the SFA board has an arguably tougher and even more important task - to find a new leader of the organisation itself.

It may come as a surprise to some that a manager could be in place before a new chief executive, but that merely highlights the way decisions at the SFA are made by committee rather than by one leader.

Stewart Regan has gone, with a headhunting firm brought in to find his replacement. So what has Regan left on his desk for his successor to deal with?

NEW MANAGER

If the new man isn't in place before a new chief executive is appointed, the first task will be to vote with the board on who the new Scotland manager should be. He/she will not make the final call.

Malky Mackay talks to Stewart Regan on the pitch at Pittodrie after Scotland's friendly with Netherlands
Performance director Malky Mackay was told by Stewart Regan he would not be considered for the Scotland job, but he is now back in contention

It is very much a board decision but the chief executive can expect to take the flak if it doesn't go well. In terms of the process, it's highly likely the new chief executive will have had little or no input but his/her relationship with the national manager could be crucial.

FUTURE OF HAMPDEN

The governing body lease Hampden from the stadium's owners, Queens Park. That lease runs out in 2020 and the SFA say finances have forced them to look at alternatives.

A feasibility study has been carried out and after consideration was given to a number of options, it was announced last week that it will be a straight fight between staying at Hampden or switching to Murrayfield, the home of Scottish rugby.

A source close to the various meetings told me that if the board had been forced to decide after all options were analysed, Murrayfield would have won. If the new chief executive doesn't want to be the man/woman who potentially calls in the bulldozers to Hampden, there are just months to find a solution.

KEEP THE MONEY COMING IN

To fans, this means little. To the clubs, it means everything. In a member's organisation operating, very often, in a hand-to-mouth football landscape, this is where a chief executive will earn his/her money.

Scott Brown heads a ball during Scotland training
The SFA need to find a replacement sponsor for Vauxhall, whose backing is coming to an end

The governing body's main sponsor Vauxhall will walk away in a matter of months and, as yet, there is no replacement. A new commercial director was appointed recently and he will be pushed to the front of the queue when the new chief executive asks for progress reports from across the organisation.

When I asked one chairman recently what the key to the new chief executive's success would be, the answer was simple: "Corporate deals, corporate deals and corporate deals."

PROJECT BRAVE

Inherited by Malky Mackay when he became the SFA's performance director last year, this was hailed as Scottish football's blueprint for success. It was designed to streamline and simplify the youth academy system, but has faced stiff criticism in many quarters for being elitist.

Keeping the clubs on side and on message when it comes to developing young talent is the job of the performance director, but the chief executive will be heavily involved. The current format seems a watered-down version of what was proposed.

SFA chief operating officer Andrew McKinlay
SFA chief operating officer Andrew McKinlay has taken over Stewart Regan's duties until a new chief executive arrives

If Brave isn't to become Botch, whoever comes in must keep it on track.

CHILD SEX ABUSE REVIEW

At the end of 2016, the SFA announced an independent review into historic child sex abuse in football. It followed allegations from former players of abuse by people in positions of authority.

The report is due sometime in the spring and could make for some very uncomfortable reading for the governing body. Recommendations will be made and changes will follow.

The new chief executive will be at the heart of revamping compliance and assuring the public that Scottish football is a safe environment for children.

FRIENDLY FALL-OUT

When the SFA announced a series of upcoming friendlies, two in particular stood out - away matches against Peru and Mexico at the end of the season.

Some players and managers were critical of the timing. The Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers said he feared some of his international stars could face burn-out due to playing too many matches.

(from left) Scott Brown, Kieran Tierney, Stuart Armstrong, James Forrest and Leigh Griffiths celebrate a Scotland goal
Celtic regularly provide at least half-a-dozen players to the Scotland squad

For some on the SFA board, it was the final straw for Regan. Just another example of the difficult balancing act of marrying football and finance.

REBUILDING OF TRUST

The relationship between the Scottish FA and the fans has been on a downward spiral for some time. Governing bodies and those at the top should never expect to be fantastically popular, but continued and sustained criticism should set alarm bells ringing with regards to trust.

If social media is to be used as a gauge for SFA popularity, then there's a long long way to go.

The new chief executive must also work to form a better understanding between the SFA and the SPFL. At times over the past few years the relationship has been tricky; other times it has been toxic. A clearing of the air is needed if both bodies are to genuinely move forward together for the good of Scottish football.