Henry McLeish publishes Part Two of his Scottish Football Review


Former First Minister Henry McLeish has released the second and final part of his review into Scottish Football. SFA President George Peat commissioned the review back in May 2009, and since then McLeish has looked at all aspects of the Scottish game in the hope of turning around our nation’s fortunes both on and off the pitch.

The First Part of the Review looked at the grassroots level of the Scottish game and now the Second Part has investigated and evaluated the fundamental structures of the Scottish game in general and the governance and leadership of football by the Scottish FA.

The SFA claim that his conclusions are ‘forthright, hard-hitting and revolutionary’. But we shall hold our opinions until after we review all 106 pages of the report.

“This review is intended to provide a comprehensive assessment of the problems, challenges and opportunities facing football,” McLeish said. “My report goes beyond obvious manifestations of under achievement and underperformance. It asks searching questions about the mindset of the game in Scotland and the structures, mission, ethos and organisation of Scottish football.

“Our institutions are amongst the oldest in the world. The burden of history influences what we do and there has been, for far too long, a reluctance to embrace modernisation and make the game fit for purpose in the 21st Century.”

George Peat, Scottish FA President, “It was my original intention to sanction a report that was wide-ranging in its investigation of Scottish football and uncompromising in its recommendations. I have not been disappointed by Henry’s work. The Scottish FA has, in recent years, shown a willingness to embrace change and there is determination within the Board and the organisation as a whole to provide a world-class service to Scottish football in the 21st Century.

“This report includes many sobering realities for us and the game in general but will not shy away from our responsibilities. We are committed to change and we believe now is the time to act for the sake of the game at all levels, from grassroots to elite performance. I have been encouraged by the help and support of the Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League in this regard and together we can implement measures that will ensure a more prosperous future for the game.”

Ralph Topping, Chairman of the SPL said, “The SPL recognises the need for fundamental change in Scottish football and supports the broad thrust of the recommendations put forward by Henry McLeish. We are very keen to work with all bodies in the game to push forward with these recommendations and to help deliver needed and necessary change for the benefit of football and its many supporters in Scotland.”

The Jist of it so far:

  • Recommends the merging of the SPL and Scottish Football League as a governing body.
  • An earlier start to the season and the regionalisation of the lower leagues.
  • Report is scathing of the current set-up within the Scottish Football Association and calls for the nine standing committees to be removed and replaced by two new boards.
  • A two-tier top flight with divisions of 10 would introduce a play-off system and spell the end for the current split, which sees the 12-team SPL divide in two for the final five fixtures.
  • The review points out that Scotland, England and Portugal are the only European leagues operating without some kind of winter shutdown.

Part Two of the Scottish Football Review


About Author


Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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