Saturday, June 11, 2011

25 Years Ago: Mexico '86


When men were men. When shorts were short. And when a grocer's daughter from Grantham was lord and master of all she surveyed.

Younger readers might also need some reminding that back then Scotland played in World Cup finals. All the ruddy time.

A simple but surprisingly effective formula of having decent players in a smaller footballing world won us a regular seat at football's grand jamboree.

Once there we would mix incompetence with bravery before falling agonisingly short. But we damned well got there.

25 years ago we were in Mexico under the guidance of Aberdeen manager Alex Ferguson OBE. We were but 48 hours away from a clash with Uruguay that would decide our fate.

A predictably cruel fate.

More on the 1986 World Cup campaign here.

And below some snippets from a pre-tournament magazine.

Seriously, take a look at some of those shorts. Minimal.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

SFA: The Ayes Have It

"There was an overwhelming desire to follow and be led. There was a real desire among the members for someone to take the game by the scruff of the neck and say 'let's change'.

"There was a recognition that we needed to do things differently and there was a real frustration and dissatisfaction with how we were. People hated seeing Scottish football being dragged through the gutter, if you like, for some of the things that were happening. They just wanted a solution, they wanted a way out, they wanted to get to a better place.

"It was a great opportunity for Campbell and I, who spent a lot of time travelling the country to outline the proposals, to hear what these people had to say and give them some confidence that what we were trying to do would hopefully get them some way towards that new, better place.

"Campbell is a very well respected administrator on the international stage as well as domestically and he and I make a great team. He is very personable, amiable and able to consult. He can influence the government and be a great lobbyist. I'm much more practical. I can drive hard and deliver change and deal with difficult situations. I'm not afraid to deal with conflict. I think together we can actually build Scottish football for the future.

"I am just eight months into the job and I think I have an awful lot to offer Scottish football and an awful lot I'd like to achieve in the game. It's a big day for me and a big day for Scottish football." (Scotsman)

A new day, a new dawn.

Stewart Regan, chief executive of the SFA, was positively gleeful as he welcomed the decision of that traditionally change-resistant organisation to embrace his plans for the future.

His reaction, eight months into the job, almost sounded like he was selling himself for the role once again. No coincidence either that he's so keen to build up his relationship with incoming president Campbell Ogilvie.

It's been eight months of misery for Regan. He clearly, rightly, feels that he inherited an organisation that was failing Scottish football. He also paid a fulsome tribute to outgoing president George Peat. It's probably kindest for me to say that a day of change came the day Peat departed. Let's leave it at that.

Now Regan's cleared the ground for real change. The committee structure is gone, the labyrinthine disciplinary procedure has been put out to pasture. He can now, finally, start to do his job properly.

So his joy is understandable. He delivered all this without a dissenting vote, a unanimity that Sepp Blatter probably couldn't buy.

A note of caution is needed. Votes, proposals, new structures, consensus. These are all steps forward. But meaningless if they are poorly executed.

The cathartic value will be lost if yesterday is seen as victory in itself.

And strip away the rancour and controversy of last season and we're still left with problems.

An under performing national team - you probably need to be in your twenties to remember a Tartan Army march on a major finals - is shadowed by an often ineffective and disjointed attitude to youth development.

An arrogant, unlistening and floundering SPL remains a threat to the SFA's ability to dictate change, our national cup competition struggles to attract a sponsor, the state of the SFL would drive a prudent accountant to drink.

The game has been left to rot for too long, let down and betrayed by an SFA that glorified the cult of the bungling amateur, an SFA that belligerently refused to accept change when it was obvious to all that the game was withering.

There's a big mess to be cleared up and some of the progress will be slow, some will remain resistant, agendas and vested interests will need to be either negotiated or stamped out.

Problems not of Stewart Regan's making. But he's now positioned himself as a force for change. He needs to deliver on that.

He has the McLeish Report to help him - one up on Blatter again, our political Henry has already committed to the cause and was never embroiled in the carpet bombing of Cambodia - and a new strategic plan labouring under the bile raising title of Scotland United: A 2020 Vision.

Delivery is everything now. Even slow progress, as long as it is measurable and obvious, will do much more than one meeting to convince football fans that an organisation guilty of the grotesque mismanagement of our game for so long is now the body can provide the impetus for change.

Regan is still a man with a lot on his plate. It augurs well that yesterday he also looked like someone who has rediscovered his appetite.

Good luck to him. The cynic in me suggests he'll need it.

The optimist in us all needs to hope he succeeds.

> Yesterday's changes in full (via STV)

  • The Board would be reduced from 11 to 7, incorporating an independent board member and becoming a more strategic, rather than representative, Board. The Board will focus on matters of corporate strategy and top-line decision-making.
  • The committee structure will be collapsed - including Disciplinary, General Purposes, Emergency - and an audit committee will be formed to ensure we act in line with best practice from a corporate governance perspective.
  • The Disciplinary Procedures will be rewritten and a new Judicial Panel will be convened, led by a new Compliance Officer, to deal expediently with all disciplinary matters across SFA jurisdiction. This will be semi-autonomous from the SFA for purposes of transparency.
  • The Articles of Association will be rewritten.
  • Two new operational Boards will be created underneath the main Board - the Professional Game Board and Non-Professional Game Board. This will enable greater efficiency of decision and allow those involved in Professional and Non-Professional game to focus solely on matters under their umbrella.
  • These changes will form part of a new SFA strategic plan: Scotland United - A 2020 Vision. This will be founded on the following strategic pillars: Performance – with focus on elite talent and coaching development including National Teams qualification for major championships and world class coaching and refereeing, Strong, Quality Growth - broadening the game at grassroots level across the spectrum of football, including referee recruitment, Greater Financial Returns, Trusted and Respected to Lead.