2007 - 2021

Regan – the Charge Sheet

Tom English and Henry McLeish are on the radio this morning telling us that heading up the SFA is a uniquely toxic post, and that being head of Scottish football is a ‘poisoned chalice’. This is myth-making to excuse decades of collusion, mismanagement and incompetence, not least of which has been the disastrous reign of Stewart Regan at the SFA, and Neil Doncaster at the SPFL. It’s a lack of leadership ambition and strategic thinking that is only possible with the connivance of a sports media which often finds it difficult to exert its own independence and lacks guts (and credibility). It is chummy self-serving and unquestioning.

The simple reality is that Regan has presided over managed decline over many years and has been at the very heart of the failure to confront both a failed duopoly model for the game and a weird sense of entitlement for a club mired in bad practice and financial shenanigans.

His statement in 2012 that:

“Without Rangers [in the SPL], there is social unrest and a big problem for Scottish society” is the epitome of an attitude that is craven, inept and displayed an ignorance of Scottish society that should have made clear he was unfit for the lucrative post.

The notion of “financial Armageddon” posited by himself and Neil Doncaster has failed to arrive, indeed the game has thrived despite their best efforts, and the statements were an embarrassment to any football authority.

That the SFA thought it credible or viable to appoint the head of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club to run Scottish football tells you that the ills of the game go way beyond capitulation to aggressive vested interests or the (in) action of one man. The charge-sheet is as follow:

1. At a time when a huge scandal of child sex abuse is being uncovered in Scottish (and British) football, Stewart Regan and the SFA appoint a man who had been unemployable and who was synonymous with racist, sexist, homophobic and anti-semitic views. The Performance Director role, a post carrying a salary of abut £200k, this is a post “which oversees schools, academies, male and female teams plus the coaches responsible for them.”

2. Regan stands accused of bringing money into the game with dodgy deals and ripping off fans. In December 2016 it was revealed by Channel 4 News Ciaran Jenkins that:

“The government said it was cutting ties with JD Sports until it was satisfied workers were being treated “appropriately.” In an incredible and under-reported story the DWP announced they were severing ties with the company after revelations about the Rochdale plant revealed extremely harsh and exploitative work conditions.”

Full details here.

SFA have an exclusive kit deals with JD Sports.

3. The SFA presided over the McGregor/Ferguson Boozegate farce.

4. The lack of any due diligence over Rangers.

5. Resolution 12.

6. The price of tickets at Hampden.

7. The Referees Strike .

8. A complete failure to resolve or lead people to any form or reconciliation about the crisis in the wake of industrial scale tax avoidance. This statement (‘SFA refuses to participate in review into handling of Rangers’ EBT use‘) on its very own is enough to make Regan unsuitable for the post. He should have been forced to resign in the wake of it.

“The image of the game in Scotland can only be damaged further by ‘raking over the coals’ of everything that has happened in the last six years for a further lengthy period of time. No-one is complacent or insensitive to the issues. It will be impossible to satisfy every supporter, every club official and every member club. Nevertheless, the board of the Scottish FA is resolute. It has acted with integrity and in the best interests of Scottish football at all times.”

10. But the main charge against Regan and the SFA is their failure at an international level.

There is no-one other than the SFA responsible for the catalogue of failure that has seen us now watch our ninth major tournament in succession from afar. They have presided over the following managerial appointments, which, apart from Smith and McLeish, have been unmitigated disasters, often exhibiting a sort of shameful sporting cringe, dreadful man-management and tactical incompetence.

Gordon Strachan (15-Jan-13 – 2017)
Billy Stark (06-Nov-12 – 15-Nov-12)
Craig Levein (23-Dec-09 – 05-Nov-12)
George Burley (24-Jan-08 – 16-Nov-09)
Alex McLeish (29-Jan-07 – 27-Nov-07)
Walter Smith (01-Jan-05 – 10-Jan-07)
Tommy Burns (04-Nov-04 – 01-Dec-04)
Berti Vogts (01-Mar-02 – 01-Nov-04)

That’s eight managers in fourteen years.

Toxic Myths

There is nothing uniquely toxic about Scottish football – and the discord and grievance that does exist is the result of problems being swept under the carpet, ignored and allowed to fester. It’s not credible that a game can go though the sort of financial crisis that we have without confronting and dealing with them.

It is time for Scottish football to enter the 21st C with a unitary authority that has the ambition and vision to actually operate with some confidence and for the national game. We need an independent sports media and an authority that is accountable to the grassroots of Scottish football (for which we already have a blueprint in the work of the Scottish Football Supporters Association).

The tragedy of all this is that people continue to support their clubs and the game in huge numbers – proportionately some of the highest in Europe – and we have a generation of footballing talent and a newly thriving women’s game that should not be wasted.

As the saying goes “never waste the opportunity of a crisis”.



Comments (18)

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  1. The Clumpany says:

    Very well said indeed! This accords with my own views. Regan’s reign has been a toxic disaster with multiple events that should each have seen him booted out of the door. But let’s not forget to apportion some blame to the clubs – the SFA’s members – who have let Regan and others behave appallingly… https://theclumpany.wordpress.com/2018/02/01/social-unrest/

  2. Mark Rowantree says:

    I agree entirely with the views expressed in this article. The bottom line is that Scottish football needs a total clearout from top to bottom.

  3. Jo says:

    I think this piece in itself is pretty toxic to be honest.

      1. Jo says:

        Well, for starters, associating Malky Mackay with ongoing child abuse in football is pretty outrageous Mike and completely over the top. Malky wrote and said some stupid things but he paid a heavy price and at no time was there sexual abuse involving children. To paint him as any sort of threat to children is just ludicrous. He was punished and he apologised. Is he to be punished ever more?

        I’ve been listening to Gordon Smith’s view on the post Regan held and he made clear that no matter what a CE might want to do he/she essentially has no power. The real power is elsewhere which is why he packed it in.

        And why resurrect the McGregor /Ferguson debacle? Why blame Regan for it? I heard Barry F speaking about that episode just the other week. He was nearly in tears and said he was thoroughly ashamed of his behaviour at the time.

        Also, in the list of “unmitigated disasters” we see Tommy Burns’ name! What’s that about? Burns was part of the great period when, with McCoist, he supported Walter Smith! When Smith and McCoist left Burns merely held the reins as caretaker for a month yet in this piece he’s labelled an “unmitigated disaster”! That’s so out of order.

        The hierarchy set-up in Scottish football is a joke. To move forward will take more than a new CE. And that’s why it will not happen because there are too many clinging to their old ways and determined to hang on to them.

        1. I didn’t ‘associate Malky Mackay with ongoing child abuse’- the point I was making (clearly) was that appointing someone with such a recent past history at the time of such revelations was crass and stupid – an opinion many many people held. I further broadened it to include the issues of diversity and supporting the womens game.

          Mackay’s appointment remains a disgrace imho – part of the wider disconnect of there SFA with wider society.

  4. Gerry says:

    Limping Malay McKay in with an ongoing sex investigation throughout the UK is disengenous. Why not say you can’t believe he was employed at the same time there is war in Yemen. It’s totally unrelated to him.

    1. How on earth is it irrelevant?

      If he’s tasked to work with and develop the game with children, young people, and women – how is it irrelevant that he writes about people in a sexist, homophobic and racist way?

  5. Alistair Taylor says:

    Gordon Strachan did a fine job.
    It’s not as if he had players like Bremner, Lorimer, Hay and Dalglish at his disposable.

  6. Kenny Brown says:

    The SFA under Regan failed in ensuring good governance by the Scottish Youth FA over Disclosure Scotland compliance and they offered no leadership over the SPFL failure to ensure all clubs complied with the minimum wage

  7. Duncan Sneddon says:

    NB – two of the “managers” in your list of Scotland mangers since Brown were caretaker managers, so it’s not really fair to include them. Looks like bulking out the list, to be honest.

    But yes, Scottish football has suffered from a real failure of leadership for many years. I don’t anticipate that changing now, because the people who’ll make the decision on Regan’s replacement are every bit as much a part of the problem as he was.

  8. David Allan says:

    “It is time for Scottish football to enter the 21st C with a unitary authority”

    Exactly what’s needed.

    And A Scot at the helm.

  9. S.Naive says:

    “There is nothing uniquely toxic about the game in Scotland”… eh, there is and you know it The “second biggest institution in Scotland after the Church”

  10. Alf Baird says:

    Is there not a cultural issue to consider as we invariably insist again and again on appointing leaders of our major institutions from outside Scotland? Whether sports bodies, police, universities, quango’s, government departments, local authorities, schools etc., should we always simply assume appointees from other nations have a knowledge and understanding of Scotland, our people, our traditions, our languages, our culture, our heritage, our hopes and ambitions, ‘oor wey o daein things’? Do they really have a passion for Scotland and our people? Are their objectives our objectives? Whit, efter aw is wrang wi appyntin Scots fowk tae heid up Scotlan’s institutions?

    1. Josef Ó Luain says:

      There’s nothing wrong “wi appyntin Scots fowk”. So, why doesn’t it happen?

      Perhaps the fact that three hundred years of colonization has hobbled us us with a middle-class which bears no resemblance to any other middle-class anywhere on the planet re: its lack of historic ambition, has a bearing on the question.

      1. Josef O Luain says:

        Above, should read: self-colonisation.

  11. Lochside says:

    These English carpetbaggers in charge have presided over the unmitigated disaster that Scottish football is. A model of colonial rule by two men who have no interest or committment to our country or its game. Supported by the usual indigenous ‘loyal’ Britscot cringers and incompetents.

    The last manager sounded like a close relative of Johan Lamont…apparently we are ‘genetically incapable’ of …well anything successful ,apparently. This small minded, defeatist closed mentality is characteristic of the colonial supine mindset that has reduced us to permanent failures on the football stage.

    Scotland, the country that really did invent the ‘beautiful game’ sidelined seemingly forever to be clueless onlookers. We need to get professional, intelligent and proactive Scots leading our game, innovative, looking outwards, learning from the best countries, and ditching the hopeless pro youth programmes and professional ‘premier’ league for starters. And leaders who value our history and footballing enough to keep Hampden and upgrade it to be fitting to remain as our nation’s enduring home stadium.

  12. streamline says:

    With 15 years behind him in club management, the patriotic 53-year-old is a tutor on the SFA’s own coaching courses and his skills on the training ground are highly regarded within Hampden, where performance director Malky Mackay is a former Celtic team-mate. (pic: Raith TV)With Michael O’Neill turning down Stewart Regan’s advances last month, the SFA have been forced back to the drawing board and Hughes feels his CV stands up to scrutiny compared to others already mentioned in connection with the vacant post.

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