Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Flash Gordon

Is that a gloom descending to replace the cloud of volcanic ash?
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
Yes, he's gone. Gordon Smith, who swept into the SFA with the scent of revolution, has abruptly departed under the stench of underachievement.

Is there are any mourning?

Not so much, although reports of a party round at the Winters' house remain unconfirmed.

There is much tittle-tattle. Maybe we're all now programmed to think like tabloids, the very mention of "personal reasons" in a resignation brings out the worst in us: "What's he done?" and "Who's he done?" were common reactions yesterday.

The rather more mundane matter of elderly parents seems to be the reason, or at least the catalyst, for this departure.

Maybe we'll find out more in the SFA statement tomorrow. Maybe, this being the SFA, we won't.

Boozegate and Burley will dominate discussions of the Smith era.

That's understandable but his real failure was to deliver any real (horrible, hijacked, now meaningless word alert) change.

Passionate about summer football and trial by TV he may have been. But he failed to even bring about proper discussion on the issues. The McLeish Report, built up to be the blueprint for revolution, lies half read on the desk he has just cleared.

As a former footballer and pundit Smith enjoyed a higher profile than any of his predecessors. Yet he seemed incapable of turning that into something positive, rather he became the lightning rod for every controversy in the game.

His handling of the appeals procedure, including a strange attempt to hide behind a FIFA rule that doesn't exist, was one of the final acts of a tenure that brought failure and ill feeling but very little success.

All his fault? Probably not. Craig Brown said that he was surprised by the news because he thought Smith was "settling in well."

Now I'm a stranger to the world of Chief Executives. But three years in the job seems a hell of a long "settling in" period. Nobody knows the SFA better than Brown and his comments would seem a tacit admission of how agonisingly slow the organisation takes to change.

Maybe Smith was frustrated by his failure to hurry the blazers towards the kind of changes he felt were required. If that is the case then I hope he speaks out. A noisy resignation could still do more good than his time in charge. Go on, Gordon, this is your Geoffrey Howe moment.

What next? The SFA blazers will need to pick a new man. His first act in the job should be to accept the resignation of every committee member.

Smith had the style but lacked the substance. Now it's time to start from scratch.