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Gordon Smith: Independent watchdog is way forward for our game

SFA Chief Executive Stewart Regan (SNS)
SFA Chief Executive Stewart Regan (SNS)

I have been giving some consideration to the thorny question of Scottish football governance.

I know for the moment it looks like it is the SFA which is the problem.

However, I think this has come about because some poor decisions were made.

In addition that when decisions that had to be made in the public spotlight were taken, certain individuals did not perform in an acceptable manner.

I do believe, however, that both bodies, the SFA and the SPFL should continue to operate as individual bodies going forward.

Why? Because both have different aspects of the game to look after.

Unfortunately, however, a decision made by either might be influenced by personal interest – or certainly be open to being construed as that being the case.

The SFA looks after every avenue of the game from the grass roots to the professional level.

They also have the membership of UEFA and FIFA which allows us to have a relationship with other countries and federations in conjunction with our international team playing in major tournaments.

This must be kept in place going forward.

The SPFL looks after the interests of the professional clubs and, obviously, has a strong preoccupation with sustaining the finances and wellbeing of their 42 members.

Although both bodies would like to see Scottish football prosper across the board, there is no question, in my opinion anyway, that they will not be able to agree wholeheartedly on what is required to achieve this.

Not when they have a large degree of self-interest at the heart of how they believe things should progress.

So, my thinking is that a third body should be formed to oversee Scottish football in general and officially regulate the decisions and actions of both bodies.

This group would have no operational work other than to consider how the SFA and SPFL are performing.

And – crucially – to confront them when decisions are made by them that most certainly are not benefiting the Scottish game.

With access to the board minutes of both organisations, they would also consider any questions, or even complaints, made by members of one association about any actions being undertaken by the other.

This watchdog could be funded by the government as it could argue that they would not be controlling football but overseeing it, in order to ensure the game in Scotland is, fundamentally, being governed correctly.

They would be deemed independent, but would, of course, have people of substance who have already been involved in football in addition to independent members.

In addition members could be appointed from a fan group, the Government department of sports and also a representative from the media.

I believe this set-up would give the public reassurance that the operations of the remaining SFA and SPFL were being independently scrutinised and amended for the benefit of Scottish football at all levels.

This group would make their conclusions and recommendations public, in order that transparency could be deemed to finally exist within the framework of Scottish football.

An initial problem could arise as FIFA are totally opposed to any government interference in the operations of the national football associations.

But I believe, if this procedure was explained properly to the world authorities, then it would be accepted.

The big question which arises from this proposal is what would stand in the way of this governing body or as it could be titled, The Supervisory Body, being put together.

Both the SFA and the SPFL would need to agree to have their operations scrutinised and evaluated by this new body.

That might not be sit comfortably.

But what reasons could they have for having opposition to the major decisions affecting our national game being placed in the public domain?

There has been so much debate and criticism at times on how the game is being managed, that a new level of transparency could only lead to the people involved in the game at all levels – and the public, in general – finally being satisfied our major national sport is being beneficially governed.