In today’s Sunday Mail, outgoing SFA President George Peat states that he knew the Scottish game needed a radical change from top to bottom, when Scotland’s Under-17s lost to Cyprus and Georgia two years ago. He also said that he was embarrassed and shocked, and immediately sprang into action by enlisting the help of disgraced former First Minister Henry McLeish to investigate where Scottish Football was going wrong.
Yet for someone in such a position of power at the head of Scottish Football, he not only singles out two games which were in the middle of Scotland’s dismal period and only acted when the media began to write about the demise of our game.
Peat, never one for blowing his own trumpet, said: “I started all this off. The seed was planted after we played in an under-age competition through in Fife and I saw we couldn’t beat the likes of Cyprus and Georgia. I thought we needed to have a good look at where we were going.
“That’s when Henry came in to examine the performance side of things. Thereafter it developed on to the governance side of things. But that tournament triggered it all off. I kept saying to myself if we can’t beat teams like that then where are we going to go?
“I told Henry from day one that he should take my word for it that we would do our best to push through whatever he came up with. The initial reaction from people in football and the public was: ‘Here we go again, nothing will happen.’ So I want to make sure change will happen. All going well it will happen on Tuesday.
“We knew almost a year ago that we’d need to try to get changes through at this AGM. Stewart Regan came in as chief executive seven months ago and has been on the ball since then. He has been going round the country speaking mainly to associations that represent the clubs to get the feel of things. Stewart has also spoken to the SFL and SPL and we’re pretty hopeful change will take place. It’s actually essential it takes place as its badly overdue.”
The outgoing President claims that there will be a shake-up on his last days at Hampden.
The current committee system is to be replaced by another committee, just a different name. The SFA’s rules will be rewritten also, with the help of Paul McBride QC, after the articles of association were pulled apart by the lawyer. The disciplinary procedures will be revamped and a new disciplinary system in its place, overseen by an independent compliance officer.
Peat continued with his bugle playing though: “I put it to the board that we should have a review and Henry completed it. It was impossible to try to get everything through in one go at this AGM. We’ve concentrated on the governance side where instead of one board there will be a main board and two subboards. One will comprise the pro game and the other the nonpro game. So that is the main change to the articles of association.
“The other big change is going to be the disciplinary side. We will have a judicial committee to deal with all the sanctions as well as any disciplinary aspect of refereeing. To be fair to our last chief executive Gordon Smith, we spoke about a judicial review before Stewart arrived on the scene. It then developed and will be like a judicial review committee, chaired by someone independent.
“The compliance officer will be the prosecutor. That will be a full-time job and they will have a minimum of five years’ legal experience. They will sit down first thing on a Monday morning and see what has to be done in terms of disciplinary action. So it will be speeded up. We’ll be looking for a lawyer to do this job. They will be left to oversee this. It will be along the lines of how they do it in England.”
As I touched on, McBride was enlisted by Celtic to help in their case against the SFA over the Neil Lennon touchline ban issues.
Peat said: “We had a case where a QC appeared at the first committee meeting and that was unknown. It used to be a member of staff from the club could represent their player or official if they wanted to. We always said we had to keep these decisions within football. But it got to the stage where it became more legal. We didn’t employ a QC but then we had to bring one in as well. It just added to the expense.”
He added: “The main board will comprise of the three office bearers, the chief executive, one from the pro board, one from the non-pro board and one independent. That’s the proposal.”
And Peat hopes that a performance director is appointed later this month to help matters on the field of play.
He said: “My big disappointment during my time as president was failing to reach a major finals although we came so close to Euro 2008.”
Peat is wrong. It is simple as that. His reign as SFA President has seen us fail to qualify for a major championship, and our game has seen a blatant steady decline both on and off the park. What other nation in the world has NO sponsor for their two top club cup competitions? What other nation states that grassroots football is needing a revamp only to get rid of the nation’s top reserve league, a league where players could not only gain valuable match practice but make that step up from Under-19s to First Team.
Thankfully his reign as El Presidente is coming to an end this week at the SFA AGM, and hopefully we shall have a more competent President in Campbell Ogilvie.
The decline of our game, and the period when George Peat and everyone at the SFA should have taken notice is when Berti Vogts was in charge of the national side and in 2004. Not two years ago as Peat claims.
During Vogts tenure, Scotland suffered heavy defeats to Holland [6-0], France [5-0], Wales [4-0], South Korea [4-1] and Hungary [3-0]. But the match that should have got through to the beaks in the corridors of power should have been the humiliating and pitiful 2-2 draw with the Faroe Islands. Scotland dropped to 77th and Vogts lost his job.
2004 was the time when the SFA led by George Peat should have acted, not FIVE years later when the Scottish game was at its lowest level and when the media was publishing headline upon headline on how the state of our game was at its lowest ever level.
Hopefully when Peat is finished patting himself on the back, he will realise that he oversaw the decline of our game both on and off it, and did nothing to stop it until it was too late.
Thanks George, but its all too little too late, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
Source: Sunday Mail