Saturday, May 25, 2013

Stewart Regan: A job well paid


Was it really just last week that Stewart Regan was lecturing Scottish football on the financial uncertainties of the ongoing league reconstruction farrago?

He also took time out to tell us that he loved his job.

Well he might, with today's news of an "inflation-busting" pay rise of 13.5 percent.

It's tricky to greet his good fortune without sounding like a Taxpayers' Alliance spokesman screeching to the Daily Mail.

I don't know the details of Regan's contract or what measure is used to gauge his performance. Maybe he gets a bonus for being in stressful situation, but would he not only deserve that if he ever looked at all troubled by what's going on?

It seems hard to believe in this Scottish footballing year that anyone could put two and two together and come up with £33,000 extra for the rabbit-caught-in-the-headlights chief executive.

It's exactly the sort of public relations misstep that makes you wonder what it is the SFA actually see, ensconced in their ivory tower, gazing down on us proles.

While Regan stresses the work he oversees at grassroots level, his most public persona is of a man dithering while football smoulders.

Grassroots work takes time to prove itself to a sceptical public, the idea of a crisis engulfing the game - an idea he has repeatedly endorsed - is more immediate and his contribution to solving that crisis often seems negligible.

It's common in such situations to compare the salary of the high profile fat cat to that of the Prime Minister - and in 2012 Regan's wage was almost double that of David Cameron's.

A cynic might suggest that you could put the two of them together and still not get a leader.

But the leadership of football does seem to be concerning Cameron's government, with sports minister Hugh Robertson apparently ready to introduce legislation to force the pace of change in English football.

Those plans include a licensing system for clubs, a more representative FA board and improved supporter engagement at club level.

Three ideas that would also be worthwhile in Scotland.

It's important to approach with caution the idea of the UK government getting something positive done. And the government's own approach must be cautious, given UEFA's dislike of interference in national associations.

But if there is a way to manage legislation for positive change, could we learn from it?

The Scottish Government's forays into football haven't always gained them universal adulation.

Yet nor does their public silence on certain issues of real concern in the game sit easily with their willingness to share in any possible moment of reflected sporting glory.

I'm not sure I'd trust politicians of any hue to make a better fist of running the game than the present incumbents but I am interested to see where Hugh Robertson's latest act of brinkmanship leads English football.

If a legislative rocket kick starts change, Holyrood would do well to follow the UK lead.

Because while we might not have a footballing Armageddon, the SFA paying Stewart Regan over £280,000 a year is yet another sign of the game disappearing up its own arse.