It seems that there is finally social unrest as a result of some dramatic events in Scottish football.
Yes, that’s right. The Clumpany is holding a massive street party to celebrate the resignation of Stewart Regan from the SFA. It will be a very social occasion and everyone is going to get so drunk that there will certainly end up being scenes of complete devastation.
What is there to say about Mr Regan’s tenure at the SFA other than “thank fuck he’s going”?
Well here are a few other words and phrases we could ponder:
- Conflicted Campbell Ogilvie
- Social unrest.
- Slow lingering death.
- UEFA licences and Resolution 12.
- The Five-Way Agreement.
- Yes, the secret Five-Way Agreement.
- Not raking over the coals.
- Pinsent Masons.
- ‘Imperfectly registered’ players.
- Fit and proper test.
And those are just some of the governance issues. I could go on to discuss the fortunes of the Scotland team and its succession of failing managers, as well as the pretty depressing levels of sponsorship and TV income in Scottish football.
I could say that it is hard to fathom quite how Mr Regan managed to stay in post for so long. But I don’t think it is difficult to work out why at all.
Regan – for all his faults – was very effective at preserving the status quo, at not rocking the boat, and at not allowing others to do so either. Yes, there were some reforms on his watch, but it is very instructive to note what the SFA chose to highlight in its statement today
“He [Regan] has made a range of changes, including streamlining the Scottish FA committee system, introducing a more transparent and independent disciplinary process, creating a pyramid system, and delivering a new performance strategy.
He also leaves the Association in good financial health, having recorded its highest ever profit in 2017.”
It’s all quite small-scale and very bureaucratic isn’t it? There certainty isn’t much there about vision, being world class, or [*gasp*] delivering success on a football pitch.
Nevertheless, Regan’s ‘attributes’ perhaps made him a perfect fit for the SFA, which is arguably one of the most conservative and insular organisations you could ever encounter.
It is interesting that it is only now, with issues mounting up that even the SFA and their potential critics in the press can’t play down (such as the never-ending nature of the search for the next Scotland manager, international friendlies played on Neptune, and the vexed future of Hampden Park) that Regan is suddenly deemed expendable by both the SFA and himself.
Regan should have been booted out the moment he publicly subscribed to a vision of ‘Armageddon’ and social unrest if a Rangers-flavoured entity was not rushed into the upper echelons of Scottish football in season 2012-13. It still beggars belief that the top executive in the governing body of a sport could trash its image and be party to such creative use of the rule book without serious consequences.
But this did happen, and the integrity and image of Scottish football as a whole paid a heavy price.
Shame on the SFA, and shame on the clubs for allowing Regan’s tenure to go on for so long. We should be very careful about blaming Regan and the SFA alone for the ills of Scottish football in recent years. After all, I can’t remember too many occasions when the Lawwells, Milnes, Petries and Budges of this world took a stand in favour of reforming the governance of the game and dispensing with Regan’s services. Can you?
Regan’s failure is to some extent also the failure of the clubs who shied away from holding him properly to account over a number of issues. But that doesn’t excuse him. He deserved to be fired years ago, and his failure to properly address the issues raised by Resolution 12 and the outcome of the Big Tax Case are illustrative of the negative and entirely avoidable impact he has continued to have.
Given the nature of the SFA, I fully expect them to recruit another conservative individual to replace Regan. The idea of them appointing someone to drive through reform of the SFAs structures and operation, and to make a concerted effort to ensure the game is played on a level playing field by introducing Financial Fair Play, for example, is tragically laughable. For what it’s worth, my money is on a blazer wearer being appointed to wear a blazer and do blazer wearing-type things.
Unless of course the clubs put their foot down and insist upon the appointment of a dynamic reforming Chief Executive…
Nevertheless, despite my somewhat pessimistic outlook, I am going to savour Mr Regan’s departure. It has been a long time coming.
Goodbye Mr Regan. It hasn’t been pleasant.